May 28, 2003
Stillwater, OK – Ben Duncan made a 12-shot improvement over his first round to lead Clemson with a second round 73 at the NCAA Golf Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, OK. Clemson stood in third place at 25-over-par among the 15 teams that had finished the morning wave of teams in the 30-team field. We will supply a final place standing this evening when play is concluded.
Among the teams in the morning flight, UCLA was in first place at 22 over par, while Oklahoma State was one better than Clemson at 24-over par. Clemson is at 25 over with a total score of 602 on the par 72 layout that is 7301 yards in length. Clemson, ranked number-one in the nation by all three college golf polls this spring, is trying to claim its first NCAA championship. Clemson has finished second twice, 1998 and 2001. The third round will be played Thursday and the final round on Friday. Temperatures are expected to reach the 90s in the afternoon both days.
Duncan led the Tigers with a 73 after scoring and opening round 85. The 12-stroke improvement tied the Clemson record for an NCAA national event. Mark Swygert improved from an 83 to a 71 between the third and fourth rounds at Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach, CA in 1991. Duncan’s round included a Clemson team best four birdies. His only major flaw during the round was a double bogey five on the par three 11th hole. A strong wind blew the ball into the water left of the green.
But, Duncan made strong comeback with a birdie on the next hole, followed by birdies on the 14th and 18th holes. He had earlier birdied the 624-yard ninth hole. Three times on the back nine Duncan got up and down out of four-inch rough, including twice for birdies on par five holes. Duncan led the team in scoring average on par five holes entering the competition and he was three under on the par fives today.
“We got exactly what we needed out of a five-man and that is a great 73 score from Ben Duncan, ” said Head Coach Ben Duncan score today was huge. It is a lot better being down three instead of being down eight.”
The key to Duncan’s comeback was consistency off the tee, as he missed just one fairway. “I was pretty embarrassed after yesterday,” said Duncan, who earned his undergraduate degree from Clemson on May 9. “When you step on the tee with no confidence you are going to shoot exactly what I did on Tuesday. I changed a couple of things with my set-up and hit the ball better off the tee. I only missed one fairway and that helped a lot.
“This is the hardest course I have ever played, by far. It is a grind out there. You are going to make bogeys. You just have to make sure you don’t do any worse than that.”
Clemson’s number-four player, Gregg Jones shot a 75 and was Clemson’s second best player on the day. Once again coach Penley followed his every shot and walked with him throughout. He started the day with consecutive bogeys, then played the last 17 holes in one-over par. His back nine included and even par 36 and was a very consistent performance. He had one bogey and one birdie over the last nine to go with seven pars.
Jack Ferguson had a 35 on the front side, but had a 41 on the back. He had a stretch of holes (12-14) where he had two bogeys and a double bogey that hurt his round. He now stands at 149 after the two rounds and is Clemson ‘s best player in the individual race.
Matt Hendrix and D.J. Trahan both had second rounds 78s. Hendrix had a triple bogey on the sixth hole and a double bogey on the 17th, while Trahan had six bogeys and 12 pars for his 78. He had four three-putt greens on the day, including a three-putt par from 15 feet on the par five 18th hole. It was just his fourth round over 75 all year. Trahan stands at 153 after the two rounds.
Clemson saw its streak of 64 consecutive team rounds under 300 broken by its 302 score on Wednesday. Yet, Clemson was just three strokes out of the lead heading to the afternoon rounds. Clemson’s three highest team scores of the year have all taken place on the Karsten Creek course.
“It was a tough day, it was just hard,” said Penley. “I thought at one point on the front we had our games pretty much in hand. We seemed to be moving right along making pretty good decisions, hitting a lot of good shots. Then we get to the back side and funny things happen. “
“The main thing we have to do right now is to go back and assess some things. We need to go back and make sure we are making good, clear decisions. I don’t care if it is the right decision, I just want it to be a clear decision. There were some times this morning where there was a lot of doubt. If there is some doubtful thoughts you can forget it. We have to go back this afternoon and get our confidence back.”
“We have two more days and we are three shots out of the lead. You can’t really argue about our position, but I do know we can play better. We have to get (DJ) Trahan in the ballgame.
Clemson scores after two rounds
Jack Ferguson 73-76-149
Gregg Jones 75-75-150
D.J. Trahan 75-78-153
Matt Hendrix 76-78-154
Ben Duncan 85-73-158
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