May 15, 2003
Auburn, AL – Gregg Jones fired a season best tying 69 and Matt Hendrix added a two-under-par 70 to lead Clemson to a 285 team score and a third-place standing after the first round of the NCAA East Regional at Auburn, AL. The 27-team tournament is being played at Auburn’s par 72 University Course in Alabama.
Clemson must finish the 54-hole event in the top 10 of the 27-team field to move on to the NCAA National Tournament to be held May 27-30 at Stillwater, OK. Clemson has advanced to the national tournament from the regional each of the last 14 years, or every year since the NCAA adopted the regional qualifying format in 1989.
Clemson is eight shots ahead of the 10-team cutline after the first day. Vanderbilt ranks 10th after the first day at 293. That is the most important statistic for Larry Penley’s number-one ranked Tigers this weekend.
Tennessee and Georgia Tech had the best team score of the day with a seven under 281, four shots better than Clemson and Clemson. ACC teams hold down three of the top four spots after the first day. The Volunteers were led by their number-five player, Ross McGowan, who had a 67. He entered the tournament ranked 298th on the Golfweek/Sagarin computer ranking. The Yellow Jackets were led by defending NCAA Champion Troy Matteson, who shot a 68.
Jones, ranked 56th in the nation entering the event, had his best round for the Tigers since shooting an opening round 69 at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, GA on March 22. It was his fourth round of 69 this season and was quite an improvement over his last two tournaments. He had a 74.2 scoring average for his last six rounds entering the NCAAs.
Jones has had a history of playing well in the NCAAs. He had a career stroke average of 71.92 for 14 previous career NCAA Tournament rounds, best in Clemson history. His round on Thursday included nine hole scores of 34-35. An eagle three on the seventh hole, just his third eagle of the season, jumpstarted his round. He stands in a tie for fifth place in the individual race heading into Friday’s second round.
Hendrix, playing in his 70th career round as a Clemson golfer, shot a 70 to match that figure and is tied for10th. It was his fifth straight round under par dating back to the ACC Tournament in mid-April. He had a balanced day with three birdies and a bogey. He entered the event with a 70.27 scoring average in the first round of tournaments this year, second best in the nation. He did nothing to hurt that ranking on Thursday.
Jack Ferguson shot a one-over-par 73, his first round above par since the final round of the Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 25. A double bogey six on the par four 13th hole cost Ferguson his Clemson record streak of 15 consecutive rounds at par or better. Ironcially, Ferguson entered the tournament first in the nation in fewest double bogeys per round.
D.J. Trahan, the number-two ranked player in the nation entering this event, also had a 73 in the opening round. Trahan was three over par on the par fours, a surprise considering he leads the nation in par four scoring average this year with a 3.95 average. He did finish his round with an impressive birdie three on the 18th hole, and shot a 34 on the back nine. Trahan is the defending East Regional Champion. He had shot par or better in 11 of his last 12 NCAA Tournament rounds entering Thursday’s play.
Ben Duncan had a 77 on Thursday and his score did not count towards the Clemson team score. He had had consecutive birdies on the seventh and eighth holes, but was three over par on the back side.
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