CLEMSON, SC – Clemson was one of 14 teams selected to play in the NCAA Men’s Golf Regional Tournament at the Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, AZ on Monday night. Larry Penley’s Tigers are the number-five seed in the field. The top five teams after three days of competition May 16-18, will advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Alpharetta, GA May 28-June 2.
Joining Clemson in Tempe are UCLA (1), Duke (2), Georgia (3), Texas A&M (4), Vanderbilt (6), Central Florida (7), North Carolina (8), Arizona State (9), Kennesaw State (10), Arizona (11), Austin Peay (12), New Mexico State (13) and Lehigh (14).
“Anywhere you go it is going to be a competitive site,” said Penley, who has taken Clemson to the NCAA Tournament all 30 years he has been Clemson’s Head Coach. “We are going to have to play well. But, when you look at the field, only UCLA is a West Coast team among the top eight seeds. It will be an advantage for Arizona State and Arizona because they are familiar with the course. It should be a terrific tournament.
“At least we should get some good weather,” joked Penley, as the weather in the Southeast of late has not been golf friendly. “It will be a long trip for our young team (three freshman starters), but it should be fun. I don’t believe we have played in a tournament in Arizona before.”
But, Clemson has played a course called Karsten previously. When Clemson won the National Championship in 2003, it was held at Oklahoma State on the Karsten Creek Golf Course.
This is the 32nd consecutive year the Clemson program has been selected for the NCAA Men’s Golf Tournament, the 30th consecutive year under Penley. It is the longest streak of consecutive NCAA team tournament appearances in Clemson sports history. Only Oklahoma State (66) has a longer streak among Division I golf programs.
Clemson has an outstanding history in NCAA Regional play. This is the 25th year of NCAA regional play and Clemson has won the regional championship seven times. Penley is the only Division I coach with seven regional championships. Clemson has qualified for the NCAA National tournament through the regional 19 times in the last 24 years. Clemson has won seven NCAA regional championships, second in the nation to Oklahoma State’s nine. Arizona State and Arizona have six.
Clemson is ranked 27th by the Golfstat Computer Poll and 30th by the Golf World Coaches Poll entering the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers have five top five finishes and have a 71-49-7 record against all competition. The Tigers finished third at the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Classic in March and third at the Wolfpack Spring Open. The Tigers have played a strong schedule, ranked as the 20th most difficult by the Sagarin Computer ranking.
The Tigers will play three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior in the NCAA Regional. It is first time Clemson has had three freshmen in the lineup for an NCAA Tournament since 2007 (Kyle Stanley, Ben Martin, Sam Saunders) and for just the fourth time in history. The other years were 1990 and 1995.
This is the first time in school history three freshmen are the top three players in terms of stroke average. Stephen Behr leads the way with a 72.88 figure, an average that is on pace to be eighth best in school history for a freshman. Behr has three top 10 finishes and has had his score count in 25 of 26 rounds this year.
Miller Capps is second in terms of stroke average with a 73.52 figure. Capps has been first and second among Clemson golfers in the last two tournaments and has shot four under par for those two events. He had an opening round 67 at the Wolfpack Spring Open on April 20, his best round of the year.
Cody Proveaux, the reigning South Carolina Amateur Champion, has a 73.93 stroke average of his 29 rounds in 2012-13. He leads the team in rounds at 75 or better and is first in par four scoring average at 4.13. Proveaux showed his capabilities at the ACC Tournament with a second round 67.
Senior Crawford Reeves has a 74.24 stroke average for the year. He has been outstanding in NCAA Tournament play over his career. The native of Greenville, SC who is second in Clemson history in career eagles (14), has finished 13th, seventh and 14, respectively, in his previous three NCAA regional tournaments. He has a chance to join Gregg Jones (2001-04) as the only players in Clemson history with four consecutive top 15 finishes in NCAA regional play.
Billy Kennerly, a sophomore from Alpharetta, GA, was Clemson’s top player at the ACC Championships with a 10th place finish off a 213 score. He hopes the Tigers can make the cut at the regional as the National Championship will be played in his hometown. Kennerly has a 74.42 stroke average for the year.
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