May 29, 2001
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Golf Coach Penley 5/29/01 NCAA Championship Golf DJ Trahan5/29/01 NCAA Championship
Clemson, SC – Clemson will take a lineup of three seniors, a sophomore and a freshman to the NCAA national tournament, which will begin Wednesday at the Duke University course in Durham, NC. The Tigers will tee off beginning at 1:03 PM on Wednesday. Clemson will have an 8:03 AM start time on Thursday. The pairings for Friday will be based on the standings after the 15-team cut. The four-day event will conclude on Saturday.
Clemson’s lineup will feature seniors John Engler, Lucas Glover and Jani Saari. The three players have combined to play 65 career NCAA Tournament rounds, including 32 in NCAA national play. Glover and Engler have played 24 rounds, every Clemson NCAA round over the last three years.
Sophomore D.J. Trahan and freshman Gregg Jones will complete Clemson’s lineup. This is the first time since 1993 that Clemson has had three seniors in its NCAA national lineup. That year, Clemson played four seniors (Danny Ellis, Bobby Doolittle, Nicky Goetze and Thump Delk) and finished fourth in the nation at the event played in Lexington, KY.
“This is a hard golf course,” said Clemson head coach Larry Penley of the Duke University course. “You could see that from the results in the fall at the Preview. The winning team (Georgia) was seven over par for the 36 holes. That is to our advantage in some respects. We seem to have a higher finish when the course is playing difficult.” Clemson finished third as a team at the 16-team Preview with a +12 score of 588.
Glover and Engler have been amazingly similar in their NCAA play. Engler has a 72.42 stroke average for his 24 rounds, while Glover has a 72.50 stroke average for his 24 rounds. Glover’s top NCAA Tournament performance took place in 1999 at Hazeltine when he finished eighth with a 295 total. Engler finished 34th as a freshman and 24th as a junior.
Saari had a 23rd-place finish in 1999 at Hazeltine, and a 41st-place finish last year at Auburn. Saari is the only active Clemson player to record a pair of top 50 NCAA tournament finishes the last two years. He has a 73.50 stroke average for his eight previous NCAA national rounds and all eight of his rounds have counted towards Clemson’s team total. Overall, 15 of his 17 previous NCAA Tournament rounds (including the regional) have counted towards the Clemson team total.
Trahan finished 15th at last year’s NCAA Tournament at Auburn with a 282 total, six-under-par. That was the low score vs. par in Clemson history for a freshman in NCAA Tourney play. Jones is coming off a 210 total at the NCAA East regional, and that six-under score was a Clemson freshman record for a regional.
For the season, Engler has the top stroke average with a 70.77 figure. He is playing at an all-time Clemson record pace and should break the mark set by Glover last year when he had a 71.24 stroke average. Glover is ahead of his own record pace with a 71.17 stroke average this year. He leads the team in under par rounds with 20 and in rounds in the 60s with 12. He has five top 10 finishes, second only to Engler’s seven. Trahan is third on the team in stroke average with a 72.72 figure.
“We need to get off to a good start,” said Penley. “Last year we stumbled at the beginning. We lost the tournament in the first two rounds, then played as well as any team over the last 36 holes. If we get the same type of play out of Jani and Gregg that we got at the Regional, we will have a chance. I know Lucas and John are going to play well and will be focused. This is their last chance.”
Clemson has finished in the top 10 of the NCAA championships four years in a row. If they make it five it a row the golf team will become the first Clemson program to record five straight top 10 finishes since the men’s soccer had a run of seven in a row between 1973-79. Clemson’s top finish is second, in 1998 at Albuquerque, NM when Glover and Engler were freshmen.
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