Feb. 29, 2008
Clemson, SC – Phillip Mollica shot a career best 68 to lead Clemson to a four-under-par 284 team score, tied for the best of the 15 teams in the first round of the Puerto Rico Classic at Rio Mar, Puerto Rico. The Tigers are tied for first with Oklahoma State after the first round. The 54-hole event continues Saturday and will conclude on Sunday.
Clemson picked up where it left off in the fall with its four-under par team round. The Tigers finished the fall with consecutive second-place finishes in national team events and shot under par as a team in five of the last six rounds. The Puerto Rico Classic has six of the top 13 teams in the nation competing.
The Tigers, ranked 13th in the latest Golf World Coach’s poll, are tied with the fifth ranked Cowboys for first, five shots ahead of third ranked Alabama and East Tennessee State. Northwestern is fifth at 290, while Michigan is sixth at 291. ACC school’s Duke (7th), Virginia Tech (8th), NC State (11th) and Georgia Tech (11th) are also in the field. Number-one ranked Georgia is tied for ninth after the first round with a 294 figure.
Mollica’s 68 included a birdie on the 18th hole and he shot 33 on the back nine. It broke his previous career low by a shot, as he had a 69 at the Las Vegas Intercollegiate last year. Friday’s round was his first for the Tigers since September 6 when he shot a 77 in the last round at the Topy Cup in Japan. The junior, who played just one tournament in the fall, won the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst last summer.
Mollica is in third place in the individual race, trailing only Matthew Swan of Alabama and Chesson Hadley of Georgia Tech, who both shot six-under-par 66s.
Sophomore All-American Kyle Stanley was Clemson’s second best player on Friday with a one-under par 71. He stands in 11th place after the first round. Ben Martin had a solid even par 72, while Sam Saunders, Clemson’s leader in stroke average entering the tournament, had a 73. David May, making his third career appearance at the Puerto Rico Classic, had a 75.
Clemson at Puerto Rico Classic Phillip Mollica: 35-33=68, 3rd Kyle Stanley: 38-33=71, 11th Ben Martin: 34-38=72, 18th Sam Saunders: 37-36=73, 24th David May: 36-39=75, 45th Clemson: 284, First
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