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Golf Digest Next on the Schedule for Clemson

February 28, 1999

March 12-14 at Las Vegas, NV

CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson’s next tournament will be in Las Vegas for the Golf Digest Invitational. Another national field will be in attendance for the event that will be held at the par 72 Desert Inn Country Club. The tournament will be a 54-hole tournament played over three consecutive days.

This will be the 11th consecutive year Clemson has played in the Golf Digest Invitational. Clemson has never won the event and finished as high as third in 1997 out of 15 teams. Clemson shot a 592 in the event that was cut short to 36 holes because of inclement weather. The Tigers have finished in the top five of the tournament three straight years, and have five top 10 finishes in the previous 10 tournaments.

Last year Clemson finished fourth in a 15-team field. The top competitor for Clemson was current junior Jonathan Byrd, who shot a two-under 214. He finished 10th at the event after carding rounds of 65-69 and 80. He was leading the event after two rounds. Two other current Tigers played in the event last year. John Engler fired a 221 and finished 26th, while Elliot Gealy had a 228 and was 58th.

Four Tigers under 72 Average Four of Clemson’s starting five current have stroke averages under 72.00. That is an incredible statement considering only three players in Clemson history have had averages under 72.0 for the course of a season. Charles Warren set the school record last year with a 71.28 average, while Chris Patton had a 71.85 average in 1988-89 and Dillard Pruitt played to a 71.94 average in 1983-84.

Jonathan Byrd leads the Tigers this year with a 70.94 stroke average through 18 rounds this year. That is ahead of Warren’s single season record. John Engler, the recent winner of the San Juan Shootout, has a 71.22 average for 18 rounds, while freshman Michael Hoey is third at 71.75. Lucas Glover is a fourth Tiger under 72.0 with a 71.83 average. All four are at least even par for the season. No Clemson team in history has ever had four players end a season with even par or better cumulative totals.

All five of Clemson’s starters have had rounds of 67 or better this year. Byrd, Hoey, Glover and Elliot Gealy have all had at least a 67 this year, while John Engler’s season low is 64, set at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate last fall. Engler also had a 65 in the final round at the third round of the San Juan Shootout.

Engler Breaks 12-year-old Record John Engler punctuated his 205 performance with a 65 at the San Juan Shootout and won co-medalist honors with East Tennessee State’s David Christensen. Engler’s 205 score and -11 rating versus par broke school records in both areas for a Clemson sophomore, another indication of the young talent on this Clemson team.

Engler broke the sophomore tournament record held by Kevin Johnson, who had a 206 (-10) at the Homberg Intercollegiate in 1986-87. The 205 by Engler this year tied for the second best overall tournament in Clemson history. Chris Patton had a 204 for a 54-hole All-American Tournament in 1990. That was at the Sun Bowl Tournament. Patton also shot a 205 at the event in 1989. Thus, Charles Warren and Engler are the only Clemson players in history to have a 205 in a team tournament.

Byrd 16-under for the Year Jonathan Byrd had his worst tournament of the year at the San Juan Shootout. He finished 12th and shot four-under par.

That is a high level of performance for a long period of time. Byrd ranked in the top 10 of every tournament over the first five events of the year, a first in Clemson history. That included a medalist performance in the first tournament of the year, as his 207 won the Ridges intercollegiate at Johnson City, TN. He was also second at the Golf World in November. With his four-under-par tournament at the San Juan Shootout, he is now 16-under par for the year.

For his career, Byrd now has a 72.69 career average, best in Clemson history. His performance this year has put him just ahead of Chris Patton, who had a 72.71 stroke average between 1986-90. Byrd now has 18 top 10 finishes in 32 career events, and he is the only Clemson golfer in history to have over 50 percent of his tournaments end in top 10 finishes. Kevin Johnson is the closest with 27 top 10s in 54 career tournaments.

Byrd now has 37 career under-par rounds, already fifth in school history and is fourth in rounds in the 60s with 21. Remember he is only a junior.

Hoey Has Had an Impact Last season John Engler and Lucas Glover both shattered the school record for season stroke average by a freshman. That record might be in jeopardy again, as freshman Michael Hoey has had a strong showing for his first four events.

The freshman from Ireland has a 71.75 stroke average so far this year and has not finished out of the top 20 in any event. He has three top 12 finishes, including his 212 score at the San Juan Shootout. Hoey finished sixth in his first event as a Clemson golfer, the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate when he had a 207, best tournament score in Clemson history for a freshman.

He was tied for first after a 67 after the opening round of the San Juan Shootout. A final round 75 knocked him out of the top 10, but his four under par performance was still outstanding.

Gealy Has Career Best Performance Clemson has not had consistent play from the number-five position over the last couple of seasons, but Elliot Gealy is trying to change that in his red-shirt senior year. Gealy has played very well in his last two events, finishing in the top 11 in both events. The native of Salisbury, NC had rounds of 71 and 72 to close the fall, his last two rounds at the Mauna Kea, leaading to an 11th place ranking individually and helping Clemson to the team title.

At the San Juan Shootout, Gealy had rounds of 73-67 -71. It gives Gealy a six under par total for his last five rounds. The 67 tied his career best for a single round and the 211 score was his best by seven strokes, as was his -5 score versus par.

Active Tigers have Five Medalist Honors Three different current Tigers have won a tournament in their careers. Jonathan Byrd, who has been first-team All-ACC as a freshman and sophomore, has won two titles, the 1997 San Juan Shootout, and The Ridges, this past fall. Lucas Glover also has a pair of wins, last year’s Carpet Classic and the Mauna Kea this past November. John Engler, perhaps Clemson’s most consistent golfer, won his first career event at the San Juan Shootout.

Clemson has Four Tournament Victories Clemson’s win at the San Juan Shootout was the fourth of the academic year for Larry Penley’s program. Clemson also won The Ridges, the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate and the Mauna Kea in the fall. This is the first time since 1989-90 that Clemson has won four tournaments in one year. The school record for tournament titles in the same academic year is five, set in 1986-87 and 1987-88.

Clemson had three wins in 1997-98, the Jerry Pate, the Carpet Classic and the ACC Tournament. Clemson has won at least one tournament every year since 1980-81.

Tigers 20-under in Six of Last Nine Tourneys Perhaps the greatest documentation of Clemson’s level of play over the last couple of years has been an examination of the team’s scores versus par. Clemson shot -34 for the 54 holes of the San Juan Shootout, an all-time record for any Clemson tournament, regardless of the number of holes.

That was the third time this year and the sixth time in the last nine tournaments that Clemson has been 20-under par or better for a tournament. In the previous 68 seasons of Clemson golf, Clemson had just two tournaments in which it was 20 under par or better.

Clemson #1 in Sagarin Poll Clemson is ranked number-one in the nation in the latest Jeff Sagarin Computer poll. This is the first year that Sagarin Computer rankings have been used to rate college golf teams and individuals. Clemson is ranked first ahead of Oklahoma State, Georgia and Texas. ACC foe Georgia Tech is sixth, followed by Minnesota, Arizona State, defending champion UNLV and BYU.

It is easy to see why Sagarin ranks the Tigers so high, four of the top 12 players in the nation are from Clemson. Jonathan Byrd is ranked second behind Oklahoma State’s Edward Loar. Clemson’s John Engler is seventh, Lucas Glover is 10th and Michel Hoey is 12th. Bryce Molder of Georgia Tech, ranked 11th, is the only other ACC player ranked in the top 12.

Golf Coaches Association Top 8 teams

    1.  Clemson,      2.  Oklahoma State,     3.  Georgia,      4.  UNLV,      5.  Texas,      6.  Georgia Tech,      7.  Houston,      8.  Minnesota

Mastercard Rankings

    1.  Clemson,      2.  Georgia,      3.  Houston,      4.  UNLV,      5.  Oklahoma State,      6.  Texas,      7.  Georgia Tech,      8.  Minnesota

Clemson under Larry Penley *Finished in top 3 in the nation, 4 times, including1997 and NCAA Runnerup in 1998 *ACC Champions five times, including 1997 and 1998 *One of just four programs nationally to appear in 15 consecutive NCAA National Tournaments. *4 Top Four Finishes in last 10 years *Ranked number-one for four polls in 1998-99, including the current rankings. *10 top 15 seasons in 15 years *13 first-second-or third-team All-Americans. *20 First-team All-ACC selections in the decade of the 1990s *41 Tournament Championships, including five ACC titles and 3 NCAA Regionals *Four-team ACC Coach of the Year, including 1996, 1997 and 1998