Duncan Leads Tiger to Top 10 National Finish

Duncan Leads Tiger to Top 10 National Finish

June 3, 2006

Sunriver, OR-Brian Duncan made five birdies over his final 10 holes as a Clemson golfer to lead the Tigers to a 291 team score and a seventh-place finish at the NCAA National Golf Tournament at Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver, SC. Duncan, who graduated from Clemson on May 12, finished with a one-under-par 71 and a 290 total.

Oklahoma State won the title at eight-under par, while Florida was second at six under. Wake Forest and Minnesota tied for fourth at five-under-par, while Kentucky was fifth. Georgia, ranked number-one in the nation entering the tournament, was sixth at +4, one stroke better than the Tigers, who tied for seventh with UCLA at five over (1157).

Clemson’s top 10 finish is the first for the Tiger program since the 2003 team won the National Championship. That 2003 season marked the seventh consecutive top 10 for Larry Penley’s golf program. This year’s finish gives Penley 19 career top 20 finishes, tied for the most by a Clemson coach in any sport with Dr. I.M. Ibraham, who had 19 with the Clemson soccer program from 1967-93. It was his 11th top 10 final ranking, which is second in Clemson history behind Ibrahim’s 14.

Duncan’s final round 71 was his second round under-par in the tournament, joining classmate Stephen Poole as the only Clemson golfers with two under-par rounds for the 72 holes. Poole and Duncan finished with identical 290 scores for the four rounds, which is fitting considering they ranked one-two in stroke average for the 2005-06 season.

It was the final round for the Duncan family with the Tiger golf program. Brian and his brother Ben were key members of the Clemson golf team over the last seven seasons. Both were members of Clemson’s 2003 National Championship team.

“It was a great finish for Brian Duncan,” said Penley. “He was four-over after eight holes, and then played his last 10 holes in five-under. That was jump-started by a chip-in for birdie at No. 18 (his ninth hole) and it kind of turned the momentum for him. Then he hit it within three feet for birdie at No. 1 and missed it, but he didn’t let that bother him. His birdies on No. 4 and No. 5 were fantastic, because those holes were playing the hardest on the course. He got it back to even-par and then made a birdie on his last college hole to finish one-under.”

Poole finished the season with a team best 73.08 stroke average, while Duncan finished at 73.15. Had Duncan taken just three less strokes over the entire season he would have been first on the team in stroke average. Poole finished his career with a 74 on Saturday. Like Duncan, he struggled at the outset with three consecutive bogeys to start the round, but he settled down and had a birdie on the sixth hole to get back to two-over-par. He finished the 72 holes without a score worse than bogey on any hole.

David May fired an even par 72 on Saturday to rank as Clemson’s second best golfer on the day and tie for first among Tiger golfers for the tournament with a 290 score. It marked the first time since the 2000 NCAAs at Auburn that a freshman at least tied for the best finish at an NCAA National Tournament among the Clemson players. That year D.J. Trahan was the freshman who was Clemson’s top golfer.

It was the second consecutive NCAA Tournament that a freshman had at least tied for the best score among Clemson golfers. Freshman Vince Hatfield was Clemson’s top golfer at the NCAA Central Regional in Cleveland two weeks ago.

Tanner Ervin shot a 74 and Vince Hatfield a 75 on Saturday. Ervin day included a triple bogey, but he made a birdie on the eighth hole to finish strong. Hatfield’s 75 did not count towards Clemson’s team score, but he finished with a 292 total, just two shots off the team best by Duncan, May and Poole. Hatfield finished the year with a 73.55 stroke average, tied for fifth best in Clemson history by a freshman. He had the same stroke average as former US Amateur Champion Chris Patton in 1987.

“With the start we got off to today (Stephen Poole bogeying the first three holes and Brian Duncan four-over after eight holes) and the way we finished this round off, I couldn’t be happier for them or prouder of them,” said Larry Penley. There wasn’t one ounce of give-up in them. We battled back to a top-10 finish, and if you’d have given me that at the beginning of the year, I probably would have taken it.

“I was just proud of them. We made birdies coming in and didn’t have any boo-boos, like we did yesterday – other than Tanner Ervin’s mishap on No. 4, where he hit the wrong club right over the flag and into the water and made triple-bogey. That was hard to swallow, but then he battled back and played one-under coming in. He really did a good job.

Clemson at NCAA Golf Tournament May 31- June 3, 2006 Crosswater Golf Club Sunriver ,OR

Player                          1-2-3-4 Tot     Par     FinBrian Duncan                    70-73-76-71     290     +2      32David May                       71-72-75-72     290     +2      32Stephen Poole                   69-76-71-74     290     +2      32Vince Hatfield                  73-70-74-75     292     +4      42Tanner Ervin                    72-73-78-74     297     +9      62Clemson                         282-288-296-291-1157    +5      7th