June 3, 2000
OPELIKA, Ala. – All five Clemson golfers shot par or better, leading Clemson to a 278 team score and a seventh-place finish at the NCAA men’s golf championships at Grand National Country Club in Opelika, AL. It marked the fourth straight top 10 finish for the Tiger men’s golf program, the first Clemson program to record four straight top 10 national finishes in over 20 years.
The last Clemson program to finish in the top 10 at least four straight years was the men’s soccer program, which had eight straight top 10s from 1972-79. The seventh-place finish was the seventh top 10 finish in the last 12 years for Clemson under Head Coach Larry Penley.
Clemson senior Jonathan Byrd finished his Clemson career on Saturday. Byrd, an academic and on course All-American in 1998-99, finished his career with an even par 72, his 75th round at par or better, a Clemson record. Byrd fittingly birdied the last hole of his Clemson career. He was a starter on four straight top 10 teams, the first Clemson athlete in 21 years to make that claim
Clemson finished 19-under-par for the tournament, the second best score versus par in Clemson history for an NCAA Tournament. The only national tournament score by Clemson that is better is the 31 under par by the 1998 Clemson team in Albuquerque, NM.
John Engler was Clemson’s top performer on Saturday with a four-under-par 68. He birdied three of the last five holes, including a 10-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole. He birdied the 14th hole all four days. He finished 24th for the entire tournament.
The native of Augusta, GA ended the event four under par, Clemson’s second best performer for the event. Engler was outstanding throughout, shooting a 35 on the front and a 33 on the back. He was under par on the back nine for the entire tournament. Like Jonathan Byrd, Engler birdied the final hole. Engler finished the year with a 71.33 stroke average, third best in Clemson history.
D.J. Trahan had a 69 on Saturday and finished six-under par, 282 for the tournament. That was the best performance ever by a Clemson freshman. The native of Inman, SC finished tied for 15th at the tournament, earning honorable mention All-America honors.
Trahan finished the year with a 72.48 stroke average, best in Clemson history for a freshman. Trahan turned in 32 on the front nine, four under par. He shot one over par 37 on the back, but he still shot 69, giving him three under par rounds for the event. He ended the year with nine rounds in the 60s, a Clemson record for a freshman.
Lucas Glover shot a 70 on Saturday and broke the Clemson single season scoring record with two total strokes to spare. He finished the year with a 71.24 scoring average, just ahead of Charles Warren’s record of 71.28 in 1997-98. Close behind was Engler, who finished the year at 71.30.
Jani Saari, Clemson’s number five player, shot a 71 on Saturday, his second straight under par round of the tournament. He had just two under par rounds all year heading into the national event. Saari shot 35on the front and 36 on the back in registering another consistent round. His score has now counted toward Clemson’s team score seven of his eight career NCAA Tournament rounds. The native of Greenville, SC had five birdies on Saturday, including three in a row on 14, 15 and 16.
Clemson started the day playing its best golf of the tournament. The Tigers were eight under par at the turn, their best performance of the tournament on the front nine. Clemson improved to 12-under par for the day through 12 holes and 21 under for the event, fifth place, but that was as close as Clemson could get. They finished 10 under for the day, tied for the second best NCAA Tournament round in Clemson history.
Clemson struggled at the unlucky 13th hole again on Saturday. Clemson had to count two double bogeys on that hole and the Tigers finished 13 over par for that one hole for the tournament. Clemson would have been in the hunt for the national championship had they played that hole at even par all week.
“The last 36 holes we played for pride,” said Head Coach Larry Penley. “I was very proud of the way the guys finished the tournament. We came out this morning trying to make the top five, but the way Houston played we would have had to be incredible to accomplish that.
“The secret to our success all year has been the big three (Glover, Byrd, Engler) and a combination of Saari and Trahan. That was evident thelast two days. I couldn’t be more happy with the way Jani played, he was phenominal. Lucas had a great tournament to recover from his first nine holes (44). I know Jonathan is disappointed, but I could not be more proud of him. He has been our rock for the last three years.”
Clemson scores at the 2000 NCAA Tournament
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