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Clemson Finishes Third at NCAA West Regional

Clemson Finishes Third at NCAA West Regional

May 17, 2008

Clemson, SC — Sam Saunders and Ben Martin both recorded one-under par rounds of 71 on Saturday to lead Clemson to a third place finish at the 27-team NCAA West Regional at the Gold Mountain Country Club in Bremerton, WA. By virtue of the third place finish Clemson will now advance to the NCAA National Tournament at Purdue University May 28-31.

Southern California won the regional tournament with a two-under par team score of 862, while Oregon was second at 864. Clemson was third at 867, just five shots behind the Trojans. Washington was fourth at 874 and UCLA was fifth at 876. Clemson was the only Eastern school to finish in the top five. The Tigers actually had a better score (287 to 288) than Southern California on Saturday.

This is head coach Larry Penley’s 25th season and he has now taken the Tigers to the national tournament 23 or those seasons. This year marked the 14th time in 20 previous regional appearances that he has taken Clemson to a fourth place finish or better. This year’s third place finish was the best by a Clemson team at the regional since 2004 when the Tigers won the tournament at Yale University.

“It was a solid performance by all the players all week,” said Penley.

“The key was that we had all five guys in the game all three rounds. That takes the pressure off. No one player felt he had to carry the team. As a team we really drove the ball well all week. We didn’t put it in crazy places. Sam and Phillip were great the entire tournament with top 10 finishes, but really everyone contributed. It was a team effort. We look forward to the national tournament at Purdue in 10 days.”

Clemson had a team score of one under par 287 on Saturday, its second consecutive under par team round. The Tigers did not get off to a good start as a team and stood six over par for the front nine. But, Clemson rallied on the back nine to shoot seven under par as a team, its best nine-hole score of the tournament.

Saunders round of 71 included three birdies on par five holes. He played the last eight holes at three under par, including a birdie on the difficult 16th hole. The sophomore from Windermere, FL improved by a stroke in each round, going from 73 to 72 to 71 in recording an even par 216 for the event. He finished in a tie for 10th, a great improvement over last year when he finished 103rd at the NCAA East Regional.

Martin’s 71 included a double bogey on the fourth hole. But, he played three under par the rest of the way. He had birdies on 14, 15 and 17 before finishing with a bogey on the final hole. Had he pared that hole he also would have had a 10th place finish. Martin, like Saunders, improved each day, recording scores of 74-72-71 for a 217 total that was good enough for a 15th place finish.

Phillip Mollica continued his fine play on Saturday and had an even par 72. Like Saunders, he finished at 216 for the tournament for a top 10finish. He shot a one under par 35 on the back nine and had two birdies and two bogeys on the day. The native of Anderson, SC had a second round 68 that was the top individual round of the tournament by a Clemson golfer.

Sophomore Kyle Stanley also contributed to Clemson’s strong back nine and shot a 73. He was three over par through 12 holes, but made birdies on the 14th and 17th holes coming in. He finished at four over par 220. David May shot a 75 on Saturday, but he had some outstanding moments.

“David was really the guy who got us going,” said Penley. The native of Auburn, NY birdied four of five holes at one point, converting on holes 10, 11, 13 and 14. But, he played the last four holes at four over, including a double bogey on the last hole. Still, he had a score of 224 for the event.

Clemson at NCAA West Regional

Sam Saunders 73 72 71 E 216
Phillip Mollica 76 68 72 E 216
Ben Martin 74 72 71 +1 217
Kyle Stanley 72 75 73 +4 220
David May 76 73 75 +8 224
Team 295 285 287 +3 867