May 27, 2003
Stillwater, OK – Jack Ferguson fired a one-over-par 73 and D.J. Trahan birdied the last two holes to shoot 75 and lead Clemson to a 299 team score and a tie for the lead after the first round of the NCAA men’s golf Championship at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, OK. The Tigers are tied with Auburn, NC State and host school Oklahoma State after 18 holes. The 72-hole event will continue Wednesday. Clemson, who had an afternoon tee time on Tuesday, will have a 7:00 AM tee time on Wednesday.
It marked the third time in history Clemson has led after a round of the NCAA Tournament. Clemson led at the midway point in 1999 at Edina, MN and last year after two rounds at Ohio State.
The 7300-yard course, second longest of the season for the Clemson team, played very difficult as only three teams were able to break the 300-mark and only four of the 156 players shot under par. Clemson is making its 22nd consecutive appearance in the national tournament, second only to Oklahoma State’s streak of 57 consecutive straight.
Ferguson led the way with a 73, while Trahan and Gregg Jones added 75s. Matt Hendrix had a triple bogey on the par three seventh hole, but still shot a 76, while Ben Duncan had an 85.
Jack Ferguson fires one of his team-best 73 strokes on Tuesday at tough Karsten Creek in Stillwater, OK
Ferguson had four bogeys and three birdies in leading the way for the Tigers. The native of Seneca, SC has been Clemson’s top golfer over the last six tournaments with a 70.22 stroke average in that time and he continued his fine play today. “Jack kept the ball in the fairway, he missed just one fairway and three greens all day,” said Head Coach Larry Penley, who has led Clemson to six consecutive top 10 NCAA finishes. “He did not putt the ball well. He could have shot in the 60s had he putted well.”
Trahan struggled on the front nine, shooting a four-over-par 40. He made a double bogey on the the 18th hole, his ninth of the day, when he hit his second shot out of the rough and into the water left of the green. Trahan battled back to birdie on the sixth hole when he made a 20 foot putt, but then double bogeyed the seventh when he hit his tee shot into a tree left of the green. That same tree gobbled up Hendrix ball and the junior scored a triple bogey on the hole. Trahan then made a 15 foot birdie putt on the eighth hole and a 10 footer on the ninth, his 18th, to finish strong.
Jones had a consistent round with five bogeys and two birdies. Penley walked with Jones the entire 18 holes, just as he did at the NCAA East regional when he led Clemson with a 208 score. Hendrix had birdies on nine, 10 and four and had his round at one over par until he had a bogey and triple bogey coming in.
Clemson combined for a school record 76 under par rounds this year entering the tournament, but did not record one on Tuesday, an indication of the difficulty of the course. It was the first time all year Clemson did not have any player shoot par or better. The 299 score tied Clemson’s season high score as a team. The only other 299 was recorded during the first round of the Ping Preview also at Karsten Creek back on October 7.
Larry Penley talks with what is the largest contingent of media ever at the NCAA Golf Championship
“This course is no place for the squeemish,” said Penley. “This is a very difficult course, every shot is a premium. You have to put your tee shot in the fairway, and get to the green in regulation. This is a demanding course and you need to have patience to be successful. You have to be prepared to take a bogey. The playing conditions were great, think what this course would be like with a 25 mile an hour wind. If the wind comes up, 80 will be a great score.
“I am glad we finished strong (three birdies on the last ninth hole, Clemson’s last) and hopefully that will carry over to the next round. I am glad D.J. made that birdie on the last hole, there is a big difference between 299 and 300 from a psychological standpoint.
“We knew the seventh hole would be tough and it was. We were six over par on that hole and 11 over for the day. But, we came back and that was good to see. “
Photos courtesy Jim Daves, University of Washington
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