May 28, 2008
West Lafayette, IN — Sophomore All-American Kyle Stanley birdied two of the last three holes to finish with an even par 72 and lead Clemson to a fourth place standing after the first round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships at the Kampen Course at Purdue University.
Clemson had a team score of 301, 13 over par on the par 72 course that is 7,450 yards in length. Clemson stands in a tie for fourth place with Kent State, who played in the morning wave. Southern California and UCLA lead the way nine over par scores of 297. Oklahoma State is third at 298.
Clemson gained five shots on the Cowboys over the last two holes when Stanley finished with a par on the 17th hole and a birdie on the 18th.
Richie Fowler, the number one ranked player in the nation, hit two balls in the water on the 17th hole and made a seven on the par three hole, then bogeyed the 18th.
The Tigers will continue play on Thursday morning with a 7:20 AM tee time. The 30 team field will be cut to 15 teams after the third round on Friday. The final 18 holes will be played on Saturday.
Overall, Clemson head Coach Larry Penley was pleased with his team’s play on Wednesday. “This was a good start,” said Penley, who is in his 23rd NCAA national tournament in his 25 years as the Clemson Head Coach.
“This is a very difficult golf course. Par is really 75. It has similarities to the course in Stillwater, OK.” Clemson won the national championship in 2003 at Oklahoma State’s home course with a four day score of 39 over par.
“I was proud of the way this team hung in there. I saw a lot of good out there today. You can make bogeys, you just can’t make the big numbers.
We had to count a few doubles and a triple. We need to correct that. If we had done that today, we would be in or close to the lead. But, overall I am pleased with our standing.”
Stanley made three consecutive bogeys on the front side from holes 5-7 and stood at two over par through seven holes. But, he held his round together and made four birdies on the back side, including the par five 16th and the difficult par four 18th. He made one of the eight birdies on the 484-yard 18th hole when he hit his drive 335 yards down the middle of the fairway. He then hit a nine iron from 149 yards to within four feet of the cup. He then made the birdie to finish with an even par 72, one of only six rounds at par or better in the 156-player field.
Stanley finished second at the NCAA Championship a year ago as a freshman when he shot a seven under par 273 score. He lost out to Southern California freshman Jamie Lovemark last year. Lovemark’s Southern California team has the first round team lead, but Lovemark shot a seven over par 79 on Wednesday. Stanley is in a tie for fourth place after the first round with his even par score. The average score for the 156-player field was 78.9.
Ben Martin was Clemson’s second best golfer on Wednesday with a two over par 74. Martin shot a two over par 38 on the front side, then played the back side in even par. He made a 40-foot putt for birdie on the sixth hole, then made a 10 foot birdie putt on the 14th hole. He also made a great sand save on the 16th hole when his shot from the green side bunker finished a foot from the cup. Martin is in 10th place in the individual race.
Phillip Mollica found the fairway just three times on his tee shots on Wednesday, but he scored a 75. Like Martin, Mollica also made a 40 foot putt for birdie. His long putt came on the par four eighth hole, quite an accomplishment after he hit his drive in deep rough. Mollica parred the 10th through 17th holes before making a bogey on the difficult 18th hole. Mollica stands in 25th place after the first round.
David May, the veteran of the Clemson lineup who was a key to Clemson’s seventh place finish in 2006, gutted out a round of 80 on Wednesday. May played the first six holes in even par, but made a triple bogey seven on the par four 15th hole when he hit his tee shot into very deep rough. He then played the last three holes in even par to finish with an 80.
Sam Saunders got his round off to a great start with a birdie on the first hole. But the sophomore made three double bogeys during his round, including a pair on par three holes and finished with an 81. Saunders was outstanding at the NCAA West Regional in Bremerton, WA 10 days ago when he shot a 216 to tie for the top tournament among Clemson golfers.
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