May 19, 2005
Nashville, TN – Junior Stephen Poole shot a three-under par 68 to lead Clemson to a 285 teams score and a 10th place team ranking after the first round of the NCAA East Regional in Nashville, TN. The 27-team event is being played for the first time at the par 71 Golf Club of Tennessee.
Clemson is tied with Central Florida, Louisville and Georgia Tech for 10th place at 285. Wake Forest has the first day lead after a 13-under par 271. North Carolina is third at 10 under par 274 and Georgia is third at 275.
Clemson’s 285 team score was its best since the Tigers shot a 280 in the first round of the Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 27. Clemson counted two birdies and an eagle as a team on the par 5 17th hole, a key to the team’s fast finish.
Not all of the teams finished play on Thursday as rain and lightning held up play for an hour and 52 minutes on Thursday afternoon. All five Clemson players did finish, but 10 groups from six other schools will have to conclude their first round early Friday morning. Clemson will tee off some time after 7:15 AM on Friday morning.
Poole, who has not been in Clemson’s lineup since the Southern Highlands Collegiate at Las Vegas on March 13, had a strong day throughout. He played first six holes in one-under par, then scored a double bogey on the par five seventh when he took three shots from the trees on the right side of the fairway after an errant drive. But, he came back to birdie the eighth and ninth holes to make the turn at one-under par.
Poole came to the 17th hole still one under, but he took his round to another level with an eagle three, his second eagle of the year. “I hit a strong drive down the middle, then had about 223 yards to the green,” said Poole, who was a starter on Clemson’s NCAA East Regional championship team last year. “I hit a five iron because I needed to hit it short and hope to run the ball on the green. I hit it a little too well and a little left and still had a 30-foot putt from the left side, just off the putting surface. I just wanted to get it close and make a birdie, but it went straight in for eagle.
“Today was a big confidence builder for me. I have been playing well in practice lately and the fact that I had played the course back in April also helped. ” Clemson played an exhibition match against Vanderbilt at the same course just prior to the ACC Tournament. The Tigers had a rainout round early in the year, creating an open date on the schedule.
Poole finished with a par on 18 and his 68 was his best of the year by four shots and second best of his Clemson career. His career best is a 67 at the Atlanta Intercollegiate on March 29, 2004. “I was very proud of Stephen today,” said head coach Larry Penley. “He was consistent all day and kept the ball in the fairway. He came through for us in a big way. His eagle on 17 was big.” Clemson counted three other players who scored between even par 71 and 74. Jack Ferguson, who shot a 71 on the same course in the match with Vanderbilt in April, had another 71 on Thursday. He did finish with a bogey on the last hole as he had to play the hole in near darkness. He had a miraculous par on the ninth hole when he got up and down from 60 yards after hitting his drive in the woods on the left side. He also had a solid birdie from a greenside bunker on the 17th hole.
Junior Brian Duncan finished with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes and scored a one-over par 72. Brent Delahoussaye had a three over par 74. A double bogey on the difficult par three 14th hole hurt his chances at an even par round. Freshman Tanner Ervin had and his score did not count towards Clemson’s team score.
Clemson is attempting to finish in the top 10 in the 27 team event that will conclude on Saturday. The top 10 teams advance to the NCAA Finals at Caves Valley Golf Club near Baltimore, MD. Clemson has advanced to the NCAA finals 23 consecutive years, the second longest streak of its kind in the nation.
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