Dec. 5, 2005
Clemson, SC- Former Clemson All-Americans Danny Ellis and John Engler both finished in the top 30 of the final round of PGA Tour Qualifying and will be fully exempt on the 2006 PGA Tour. It will be the fifth season on tour for Ellis, an All-American for Clemson between 1990-93, but the first year on tour for Engler.
Both players have overcome injury to earn their PGA Tour cards. Ellis has been bothered by back problems in recent years, including the second half of 2004 when he had back surgery. Engler, a senior on Clemson’s 2001 Tiger team and a classmate of Lucas Glover, who finished 30th on the PGA Tour money list this year, suffered a dislocated and broken ankle during an automobile accident near his home in Augusta, GA on March 23, 2003. He did not play golf for over a year and returned this year to play a few Nationwide events in 2005 before making his run through all three stages of PGA Tour qualifying.
After hours and hours of rehabilitation over the last two years, he played well during PGA Tour qualifying, culminating with his 13th place finish at the third stage on Monday. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Engler after his sixth and final round 68 to close with a108-hole score of 419.
“I had a bogey on number-one and number-18, but was solid on the 16 holes in between. This is a great feeling. I have so many people to thank who helped me come back from the accident. There are so many doctors and people who helped me through the rehab process. When you look at my story it should tell people to never give up on a goal. Accept the cards you are dealt and do the best you can.”
Engler had rounds of 73-68-71-72-67-68 in recording his 419 score. He was inside the magic number-30 standing in the tournament just once in the first five rounds. Engler was a first-team All-American for the Tigers as a sophomore and a senior and a second-team selection as a junior.
Ellis made the tour on the cutline with an 11-under-par 421 score. He had a consistent tournament with scores of 69-70-67-72-73-70. He might have made the Tour cut with the most dramatic shot of all the qualifiers, as he chipped in for eagle from 40 feet on the final hole, his 108th hole of the tournament. The performance reminded some of Lucas Glover, who earned his PGA Tour Card for 2005 with a birdie on the 108th hole last December. Glover went on to a 30th place finish on the money list in 2005.
“I really can’t believe it,” said Ellis. “My caddie told me on the 17th tee that the number (cutline) was 10-under. I was at nine, so I thought I needed just one birdie. I played for a birdie on the 18th hole, but the chip shot went in. It was amazing, it just kept going and going until it dropped.” As it turned out, Ellis needed the eagle to make the number necessary to finish in the top 30.
Former Clemson All-American Matt Hendrix missed the cut by two shots with a 423 score, good enough for 42nd place in the 165-player field. He had rounds of 67-74-72-73-67-70. He will be fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour, however, his first year as a fully exempt professional.
Kevin Johnson got off to rough start with a triple bogey and he finished with a 76 on Monday to finish in a tie for 59th place at 426. He will be fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour in 2006. Elliot Gealy shot a 73 on Monday to finish 124th with a 437 total.
Clemson will have six former players fully exempt on the PGA Tour in 2006, the most former Tigers on tour in any season in Clemson history. Lucas Glover, Charles Warren, D.J. Trahan and Jonathan Byrd are fully exempt based on their top 125 finish on the money list during the 2005 season.
With Engler’s qualification on Monday, it means four of the five starters on Clemson’s 1998 team will be exempt on the PGA Tour in 2006. Engler and Glover were freshmen on that team, while Jonathan Byrd was a sophomore. Warren was a senior in 1998, a year in which Clemson finished second at the NCAA Tournament, just three shots short of a national championship behind UNLV.
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