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Clemson Off to Strong Start at NCAA National Tournament

Clemson Off to Strong Start at NCAA National Tournament

May 31, 2006

Sunriver, OR- Stephen Poole, Brian Duncan and David May all shot under-par to lead Clemson to a 282 team score and a fifth-place standing after the first round of the 2006 NCAA National Golf Tournament at Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver, OR. The four-day 72-hole tournament is being played the par 72 course that is 7,630 yards in length, the longest course a Clemson team has ever played.

“I have no complaints,” said head coach Larry Penley, who is taking Clemson to the NCAA National Tournament for the 22nd time in his 23 years as head coach. “We played good solid golf all day. We never got into much trouble and we made some big putts for par and for birdie. Every time it looked like we were going to slide, someone would make a birdie and turn the momentum for us.”

“The 10th, 11th and 12th holes are the toughest stretch on the course and we played those holes well. It is imperative to do that on Thursday (in the second round) because we open with those three holes. We are looking at the tournament as a 72-hole marathon, but this is a good start.”

The Tigers 282 team score was six-under par, the second best score versus par by the Clemson team this year, and tied for the seventh best score versus par in an NCAA National Tournament in Clemson history. Clemson had four players at even-par or better in the opening round, the first time a Clemson team had done that in an NCAA National Tournament since the opening round of the 2000 Tournament at Auburn. It marked just the third time this year Clemson had four players are par or better in the same round.

The Tigers trail ACC rival and tournament leader Wake Forest by just four shots, as the Demon Deacons shot 11-under-par 277 in the opening round. UCLA, who played with Clemson in the opening round, was in second at 280, but the Bruins were at 10 under at one point. Washington and Oklahoma State are tied for third at seven-under 281, just one shot ahead of Clemson. The field is bunched as the top 10 teams were just nine strokes apart.

Clemson was far ahead of ACC rivals North Carolina and Georgia Tech, who are 27th and 30th respectively after the first round. Number-one ranked and defending NCAA Champion Georgia shot a five-over-par 293 on Wednesday and is in 20th position.

Poole and Duncan, the senior leaders of the Clemson team and All-ACC performers this year, led the Tigers in the first round. They are both in the top 15 individually, as Poole is tied for eighth and Duncan is tied for 15th.

Poole fired a three-under par 69 to lead the way. He fired a team best 33 on the front side with birdies on the second and third holes to get things in the right direction. He got it to four-under with a birdie on the 11th hole before making a bogey on the 17th before finishing with his fifth round in the 60s this year.

Duncan was three-under-par on the par fives and that keyed his opening round 70. It was Duncan’s 12th round at par or better this season, and his best career round versus par in an NCAA tournament.

David May, Clemson’s number-five man in the lineup, had a one-under par 71 in the opening round. The freshman from Auburn, NY got Clemson off on the right foot with a birdie on the first hole. He went on to make four birdies and three bogeys, including a birdie on the 17th hole. May is the most experienced Clemson player on this course, as he finished third out of 110 players in the National Junior tournament at Crosswater in 2004.

Tanner Ervin was Clemson’s fourth counter with an even par 72. Ervin started with a bogey, then was Mr. Consistency the rest of the way. He had 16 pars and one birdie the rest of the way.

Freshman Vince Hatfield, who was Clemson’s top golfer at the NCAA Regional with three consecutive rounds of one-over 72, scored another one-over-par round on Wednesday. His 73 on the par 72 course included a double bogey on the par four ninth hole, his first double bogey in NCAA tournament play. He had gone 54 consecutive holes in the regional without a double. He finished strong however, playing the last four holes in one under par.