May 12, 2003
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Clemson’s number-one ranked men’s golf team will begin pursuit of its first National Championship when it plays at the 2003 NCAA East Regional the par 72 University Course at Auburn May 15-17. Clemson will be one of 27 teams competing in the three-day 54-hole event. The top 10 teams advance to the National Championships at Oklahoma State May 27-30.
Clemson has advanced to national play through the regional every year since 1989, the first year the regional competition began. Clemson is the defending Co-Champion of the East Regional (with Georgia Tech) and has won the East Regional a total of five times, more than any other school. Clemson’s other East Regional championship seasons took place in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 2000.
Clemson is one of the favorites to win the regional this year based on its number-one overall ranking and record against the other 26 teams in the field this year. Clemson has a 54-5 record against the other 26 teams in the East Regional this year. That includes a 38-2 mark against the other ACC and SEC teams in the East Regional field this year.
Last year, D.J. Trahan won the individual championship of the East Regional, just the second Clemson golfer to win the regional championship. He had a score of 210 at Settindown Creek in Roswell, GA to win the title. This will be Trahan’s fourth appearance in the regional and he has already played on two Clemson championship teams.
Trahan, the number-two ranked player in college golf this year (trailing only Hunter Mahan of Oklahoma State), has a 70.69 stroke average this year and has finished in the top 10 in eight of his 11 tournaments. He is Clemson’s career leader in stroke average with a 71.43 figure and is also the school’s all-time leader in rounds in the 60s with 43. He needs one round of par or better to break John Engler’s career record of 95.
Trahan won the Mercedes Benz Collegiate in Jacksonville, FL in February and has five career collegiate wins to tie Chris Patton’s Clemson career record. He leads the nation final round scoring average (69.10), in eagles (10) and par four stroke average (3.95) so far this season. He is also second in Clemson history in career stroke average in NCAA Tournament play with a 71.95 figure for his 21 career rounds.
Jack Ferguson has been Clemson’s best player over the last four tournaments with a 70.42 stroke average for that period of time. He has four straight top five finishes, including a second place at the Atlanta Intercollegiate last week when he shot an eight-under par 208. He has seven top 10s to rank second to Trahan and five top five finishes in what should be an All-America sophomore season.
Ferguson, who will be making his first NCAA Tournament appearance, leads the nation in fewest double bogeys per round and has been very consistent of late. He has a streak of 16 consecutive rounds at par or better, a Clemson record, and is 27-under-par for his last four tournaments. His eight-foot birdie putt on the last hole in the last group, gave Clemson the ACC Championship by one stroke on April 20th.
Matt Hendrix has ranked among the top 15 players in the nation all spring and like Ferguson comes into the NCAAs on a roll. He has consecutive top 10 finishes entering the NCAA tournament and has five top 10s for the season. His 71.44 stroke average is third best on the team for the season and he ranks second to Trahan this season in under-par rounds with 16. He had a fourth place finish in Atlanta with a 209 score, his third fourth-place finish of the season.
Hendrix will join Ferguson as a member of the United States team in the US vs. Japan Collegiate Matches this summer in Japan. This will be Hendrix second NCAA Tournament appearance. He had rounds of 70 and 71 in the second and third rounds, respectively, at last year’s NCAA championships at Ohio State to help Clemson to a third-place finish. Gregg Jones will be making his third NCAA Tournament appearance. He has performed with great consistency in his previous two outings, and has a 71.92 stroke average for his 14 NCAA Tournament rounds. Eight of his 14 career NCAA Tournament rounds have been under par. This season Jones has a 72.75 stroke average, fourth best on the team, but he is still ranked among the top 50 golfers in the nation according to the Golfweek/Sagarin computer rankings. The first-team All-ACC golfer each of the last two years has a 72.59 career stroke average, sixth best in Clemson history.
Ben Duncan will be the Clemson starting lineup for the NCAAs for the second straight year. The senior playing in his 32nd career tournament has a 74.03 stroke average for the season. He had a pair of top 10 finishes to start the season, including a career best fifth-place finish at the Carpet Capital Classic in September.
Duncan has played the number-one schedule in the nation according to the individual player ratings published by Golfweek/Sagarin. A senior, Duncan earned his degree from Clemson on May 9.
Head Coach Larry Penley has been the man who has guided Clemson to each of its five previous East Regional Championships. This is the 20th straight year he has taken Clemson to the NCAA tournament. In fact, he has led the Tigers to the national competition of the NCAAs each of his previous 19 years, something only he and Oklahoma State Coach Mike Holder can claim.
Penley already has an ACC Championship on his resume for this year and now has seven ACC titles for his career. He is second in Clemson athletics history in top 20 seasons with 16, trailing only the 19 accumulated by former soccer coach Dr. I.M. Ibrahm. Overall, Penley has 52 tournament titles to his credit, including four this year. A victory at the East Regional would give Clemson a record tying five tournament championships in the same year.
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