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“A” Well-Rounded Golfer

“A” Well-Rounded Golfer

Note: The following appears in the Notre Dame gameday football program. To purchase a copy of the program while supplies last, send a check for $6 to Clemson Athletic Communications; P.O. Box 31; Clemson, S.C. 29633 with your return address.

By Chas Williams // Athletic Communications

As a graduate member of the Clemson men’s golf team, Stephen Behr Jr., does not necessarily put pressure on himself. Rather, he hopes to set an example that will continue to be seen at Clemson, an example of how to continue to do things the right way.

Behr sets that example with a stroke average that is among the top 10 in Clemson history as well as through his work in the classroom. Behr has made a B in the classroom just three times in his academic career. In all his other courses, he has made an A. This past year, he was an Academic All-American by CoSIDA and was named an All-America Scholar by the College Golf Coaches Association. He has been an Academic All-ACC golfer each of the last three years as well.

As the son of the golf pro at Florence (S.C.) Country Club, golf was something easy for Behr, who grew up watching his father play. He has been playing the game since he was four years old.

“My dad had access to finding my first set of clubs, but I didn’t really get into the sport until I was about 12,” said Behr.

“I actually started playing tennis more so than golf, so I played in a lot more tennis tournaments growing up. But I found myself waking up wanting to play golf, not tennis, which is why I decided to retire the racket.”

Behr started to focus on golf, and the hard work quickly paid off. He began winning junior golf tournaments and set his sights on playing at the collegiate level. His talent was noticed both in the state, by Clemson, College of Charleston, Furman and South Carolina, as well as out of state by programs such as Auburn and Wake Forest.

“Clemson was the last school I visited, and when I stepped on campus, I immediately fell in love with it,” stated Behr. “I liked the college town aspect and how everything is here together, yet still away from everything else.

“I knew if I went to another school, I would be the No. 1 guy. But at Clemson, I might not play much at first. Being a part of such a historic program would still take my game to the next level.”

While Behr did not expect to be the No. 1 player at the outset, he was. He had the top stroke average on the team as a freshman and sophomore, the first Tiger to do that since Kyle Stanley in 2008 and 2009. Last season as a junior, he had his best career stroke average, but was third on the team.

Now as a graduate, Behr knows that at Clemson, everything is here to make you not only a better golfer, but a better person.

“The people at Clemson are good people and make you into a better person. You have the resources to become a better golfer, and there isn’t a shortfall here. Everyone is rooting for you. We play in some of the best tournaments with the best teams at the best courses in the country.”

Behr opened the 2015-16 season, his last year on head coach Larry Penley’s team, with a career-best, second-place finish. He had rounds of 70, 69 and 74 to finish three-under par at the Carpet Classic. In the process, he lowered his career stroke average to 72.59, among the top 10 in school history. It was his seventh career top-10 finish.

While that was a performance he will remember for a long time, he reflected on his freshman year at the same Farm Course in Dalton, Ga., where he played against one of today’s top players in the world.

“I remember I was a redshirt freshman playing at the Farm and I didn’t really care how I played,” recalled Behr. “I was just happy to play in the tournament at such an unreal course with a Tiger Paw on my chest.

“I ended up playing really well and got beat by Jordan Spieth by only two strokes. He is doing pretty well for himself right about now.”