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Men’s Golf Begins Spring Season in Puerto Rico

February 16, 1999

CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson will begin its spring golf season at the Puerto Rico Classic in San Juan Feb. 21-23. The Tigers, who enter the tournament ranked number-one in the nation in every college golf poll, will be competing against a strong field of 18 teams. The list of teams includes #3 Georgia, # 6 Georgia Tech, #7 Texas, #8 Minnesota, #10 Northwestern, #11 North Carolina, #14 NC State and #19 East Tennessee State. That means six of the top 10 and nine of the top 20 teams in the country will be on hand.

The event will take place at the Rio Mar Beach Resort and Country Club. For the first time ever, two courses will be used, the 6,945-yard River Course and the 6,782-yard Ocean Course. Both are par 72 layouts. The teams will play the River course on the first and third days and the Ocean course on the second day of the 54-hole event.

Clemson at Puerto Rico Classic This is the seventh year of the Puerto Rico Classic and Clemson has competed in each of the previous six events. Clemson’s top finish came in 1996, a second-place total of 876. The Tigers top team score is 870 at the event is an 870, which was good enough for third place in a 14-team field in 1997.

While Clemson did not win the team title that year, Jonathan Byrd took the medalist honors with a 212 score. That was Byrd’s first spring tournament as a Clemson golfer. He had rounds of 74, 68 and 70 in shooting the four-under score.

Last year Clemson finished sixth, one of just two spring events that Clemson did not finish first or second last spring. Joey Maxon was Clemson’s top performer last year with a 216 score, even par, which was good enough for sixth place.

Jonathan Byrd had a 223, Charles Warren and John Engler had 226 scores. Chad Starlipper was Clemson’s number-five player and he shot a 230, 14-over par.

Elliot Gealy did not participate in the event last year, but he was in the lineup in 1997. He helped Clemson to a third-place finish with a 227 score, 11-over-par. His score counted two of the three days of the tournament.

Clemson Starts Young Lineup Clemson will start one senior, a junior, two sophomores and a freshman at the Puerto Rico Classic. Elliot Gealy, Clemson’s number-five player, is the only senior. He is a veteran of 25 tournaments and 71 college rounds in his career.

Jonathan Byrd has been Clemson’s top performer this year with a 71 stroke average for his first five tournaments. Byrd has finished in the top 10 of every tournament so far this year, including medalist honors at the Ridges Intercollegiate, the first event of the fall. He already has eight under-par rounds and six rounds in the 60s.

The sophomore tandem of John Engler and Lucas Glover has also been outstanding. Engler has three top 10s and nine rounds at par or better so far this year. The highlight of his fall was a 64 in the second round of the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate. That tied for the second lowest round in Clemson history and the lowest by a Tiger in any event since 1985 when Brad Clark shot his record 63 at the ACC Tournament. Engler, who was a high school classmate of Duke basketball star William Avery, had a 71.80 average in the fall.

Glover had a 72.13 stroke average in the fall, including a -3 tournament at the Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Glover took medalist honors at the event, the second win of his career. He had co-medalist honors with Bryce Molder of Georgia Tech at the Carpet Classic in Dalton, GA last spring with a four-under 212.

The only freshman in the Clemson lineup is Michael Hoey. The rookie from Ireland played in three events in the fall and had a 72.11 strokeaverage, this best on the team. He already has a pair of top 10 finishes, sixth at the Jerry Pate and ninth at the Golf World. He was just four over par for his nine rounds in the fall.

Last Time Out for Tigers Lucas Glover won the individual title leading Clemson to the team title of the Mauna Kea Resort Invitational. Glover shot a 213 total, the only player under par in the field of 60 golfers. It was the second championship of the former Wade Hampton High golfer’s career.

Clemson won the event by 33 shots over International Pacific College. The Tigers had a 871 team total, seven over par. Purdue was third at 905, while East Tennessee State was fourth at 906. North Carolina was the only other ACC team competing and the Tar Heels were seventh with a 920 score.

Glover had rounds of 73-67-73 in capturing the championship on the par 72, 6875-yard course. His second round 67 tied his career low round.

Clemson had three of the top six finishers and all five Clemson golfers had a top 20 finish. Jonathan Byrd, Clemson’s low average golfer this fall, finished fourth with a 218 score, two-over par. It was the fifth straight top 10 finish for Byrd this fall.

John Engler shot a 221 score for the 54-hole event and finished sixth. Elliot Gealy had his highest finish of the fall with an 11th place tournament. The red-shirt senior had a 224 score, including a one-under par 71 in the second round. Freshman Michael Hoey was 17th with a 227.

This was the final tournament of the fall schedule for Larry Penley’s number-one ranked Tigers. This was the third tournament title of the fall, the first time a Clemson golf team has won three tournaments in a fall schedule.

Clemson Number-one in 3 Polls Clemson is ranked number-one in the final fall Mastercard Collegiate rankings. The Tigers were also first by the Coaches Association and in the first Golfweek/Sagarin Computer rankings released in January.

Clemson holds the number-one position heading into the spring of 1999 season, the first time since 1988-89 that Clemson has been number-one entering the spring. season. The Sagarin poll also has individual rankings. Jonathan Byrd is number-two while John Engler is sixth. Lucus Glover holds down the number-11 spot, while freshman Michael Hoey is 13th.

The Tigers have reached the top spot in the polls thanks to their most successful fall ever. Larry Penley’s Tigers won three tournaments in the fall, a first in Clemson golf history. The Tigers won the Ridges Intercollegiate in Johnson City, TN, the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate in Birmingham, AL and the Mauna Kea in Hilo, HI. The Pate Intercollegiate was the most prestigious victory, as nine of the top 11 teams in the nation were in the field.

Individually, Clemson has three of the top 25 players in the nation of the Mastercard poll. Jonathan Byrd, a junior on this year’s team, is ranked sixth in the latest Mastercard player rankings, while John Engler is 13th. Lucas Glover, a sophomore from Greenville, is rated 21st. David Gossett of Texas is the number-one ranked player in the country.

Golf Coaches Association Top 8 teams

      1.  Clemson          2.  Oklahoma State          3.  Georgia          4.  UNLV          5.  Texas          6.  Georgia Tech          7.  Houston          8.  Minnesota

Mastercard Rankings

      1.  Clemson          2.  Georgia          3.  Houston          4.  UNLV          5.  Oklahoma State          6.  Texas          7.  Georgia Tech          8.  Minnesota

Sagarin Computer Rankings

      1.  Clemson          2.  Oklahoma State          3.  Georgia          4.  Texas          5.  Houston          6.  Minnesota      7.  Georgia Tech.          8.  Arizona State         

Clemson under Larry Penley *Finished in top 3 in the nation, 4 times, including1997 and NCAA Runnerup in 1998 *ACC Champions five times, including 1997 and 1998 *One of just four programs nationally to appear in 15 consecutive NCAA National Tournaments. *4 Top Four Finishes in last 10 years *10 top 15 seasons in 15 years *13 first-second-or third-team All-Americans. *20 First-team All-ACC selections in the decade of the 1990s *40 Tournament Championships, including five ACC titles and 3 NCAA Regionals *Four-team ACC Coach of the Year, including 1996, 1997 and 1998

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