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Golfers will Open the ’98 Season at the Ridges Invitational

September 11, 1998

Clemson Opens Season at Ridges Invitational Fourth-ranked Clemson will open its 1998-99 season at the Ridges Invitational September 12-13 at the par 72, 6800-yard layout Ridges Golf and Country Club in Johnson City, TN. The tournament field will play 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. The host of the event is East Tennessee State University.

The field includes nine of the top 25 teams in the MasterCard preseason rankings, including five of the nation’s top 10. Overall, the strong field that includes ACC rival and third-ranked Georgia Tech has combined to win 29 National Championships.

Clemson will bring two seniors, a junior and two sophomores to the season opening tournament. The Tigers are led by junior Jonathan Byrd, a native of Columbia in his third year as a starter. He is the only Clemson player in history to be named first-team All-ACC as a freshman and sophomore.

Sophomores John Engler (Augusta, GA) and Lucas Glover (Greenville, SC) also will be in the Clemson lineup. They recorded the number-one and number-two freshman stroke averages in Clemson history last year. Glover won the South Carolina State Amateur title this past summer, while Engler was the runnerup in the Georgia State Amateur.

Two seniors will also be starting the opening tournament this weekend, including one who will be making his Clemson debut. Elliot Gealy has been an off and on starter over his career. The native of Salisbury, NC, had a 74.67 average in two tournaments a year ago, but played in the NCAA National Tournament for Clemson in 1997. He had rounds of 68-72-73 to win the team’s 54-hole qualifying for this weekend’s tournament.

Luke Ferguson of Rock Hill, SC, has never played in a tournament for Clemson, but did play in 14 tournaments over two years for the College of Charleston.

Glover Set record at South Carolina amateur One of the highlights for Clemson golfers this summer was the play of Lucas Glover in the South Carolina State Amateur. The native of Greenville, SC shot a 14-under-par 266 for the event, breaking the tournament record of 11-under-par set by current Clemson coach Larry Penley in 1987.

Glover achieved the feat at the Heathland Course at the Legends Resort in Myrtle Beach the weekend of August 6-9. In doing so, Glover became just the second player to win both the SCGA Junior and SCGA Amateur Titles. Glover had rounds of 68, 66, 66 and 66 in breaking Penley’s record.

Clemson teammate Jonathan Byrd finished third at the event, while Ben Duncan, a freshman on the Clemson team this year, was 18th.

Clemson Among Best in Penley Era Larry Penley has been Clemson’s golf coach since 1984 and in those 15 years he has seen his team finish the season at the NCAA National Tournament every year. Penley and Oklahoma State coach Mike Holder are the only coaches in the country to take the same team to the NCAA National tournament 15 years in a row.

During those 15 years Clemson has 13 top 20 finishes, the fourth best figure in the country for that time period. Clemson has 10 top 15 finishes since 1984, also the fourth best total. Clemson has finished in the Top four of the event each of the last two years and has four Final Four finishes under Penley, tied for fourth best in the nation over the last 15 years.

Penley was named ACC Coach of the Year in 1998, the third straight year he has won the award and his fourth award overall. Among his 37 tournament titles are five ACC Championships and three NCAA Regional titles.

Tigers to Compete in Rolex National Clemson has been selected as one of eight teams to participate in the 1998 Rolex National Intercollegiate Match Play Team Championships. The third annual event will take place October 31 through November 2 at Indian River Club in Vero Beach, FL.

This is the only match play event on the college schedule. The five members of each team will play singles matches against their opponents to determine the winning team. The winners advance, while losing teams will go into a consolation bracket. Each team is guaranteed three matches.

Clemson will be one of the favorites in the field. The Tigers finished second last year and Larry Penley’s team will be making its third straight appearance in the event. Also chosen for the event are Oklahoma State, Houston, TCU, Georgia, Arizona State, Arizona and South Carolina. Every team in the field was ranked in the final top 10 last year.

Clemson has six tournaments this fall, tying for its most fall events in history. On September 28-29 Clemson will participate in The Preview at hazeltine Country Club in Edina, MN, the site of the NCAA Championships this year. On October 19-20 Clemson will be at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate. The Rolex Match Play is the next event on the agenda, followed by the Palmetto Dunes/Golf World November 6-8.

The Fall concludes in Hawaii at the Mauna Key Invitational November 25-26. The Clemson golf team will be in Hawaii the same time the Tiger basketball team is in the Maui Invitational.

Tigers on Tour Clemson has two former players on the PGA Tour. Clarence Rose was an All-American at Clemson in 1980 and helped lead the Tigers to their first ever NCAA Tournament. Richard Coughlan is a rookie on tour after leading Clemson to four straight NCAA events, 1993-97, including a number-three finish in 1997.

Rose is 145th in earnings so far this year with $143,731 entering this week’s Bell Canadian Open. He is 22nd on tour in sand saves with a 58 percent mark and has made 12 of 25 cuts so far this year. He is a 16-year veteran of the tour and went over $2 million in career earnings this year. His best finish this year was a 12th at the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta.

Coughlan is 15th on tour in driving distance this year with a 280.6 average. He is 13th in total driving. Coughlan has made 12 of 23 cuts this year and has earned $70,216, 189th on the money list. His best finish this year was a 21st at the Deposit Guaranty Classic.

Tigers Seek 18th Straight NCAA Tournament Bid Clemson will be seeking its 18th consecutive NCAA National tournament appearance this year, the second longest active streak in the nation. Only Oklahoma State and its Cal Ripken-esk 52 consecutive years at the event is better.

The Tigers have been to every NCAA Tournament since 1982 and every year since 1980 with the exception of the 1981 event. Clemson did not make it to the NCAAs prior to 1980. The first Clemson team to qualify was led by current PGA player Clarence Rose.

The Tigers have been in the top 15 of the NCAA National Tournament eight of the last nine years, including a number-three and number-two finish the last two years, respectively. The only year in the 1990s that Clemson failed to make the cut was in 1995 at Ohio State. Only Arizona State and Oklahoma State have made every cut in the 1990s. Clemson and Florida are the only schools to have made eight of the nine cuts this decade.

Byrd Two-time All-ACC Jonathan Byrd is the most experienced and decorated golfer on the Clemson team. He is the only player in Clemson history to earn first-team All-ACC honors as a freshman and a sophomore and thus has a chance to be Clemson’s first four-time first-team All-ACC golfer. Of course, he still has two years and a lot of tournaments to go.

Byrd already ranks favorably in many statistical categories. His 73.09 career stroke average for 78 career rounds is fourth best in school history. Only Chris Patton (72.71), Kevin Johnson (72.86) and Charles Warren (72.99) are better.

Byrd is also already 12th in career rounds under par (27), tied for 10th in Top 10 finishes (13), and tied for fifth in rounds in the 60s (13). Last year as a sophomore he had nine rounds in the 60s, the third highest total for a season in Clemson history. His 72.325 stroke average was the sixth best in Clemson hisotry, while his 22 rounds at par or better ranked third best.

Byrd is ranked 16th in the nation in the MasterCard preseason golf rankings for individuals. He concluded last season ranked 28th in the nation.

Clemson Fourth in Preseason Poll Clemson is ranked fourth in the nation in the MasterCard preseason Division I college golf poll. The Tigers trail only defending national champion UNLV, second-ranked Georgia and third-ranked and ACC foe, Georgia Tech. Clemson finished second in last year’s final poll after a second-place finish to UNLV in the National Tournament by just three shots. The Tigers have been ranked in the top 10 in every poll over the last three years.

Here is the list of the preseason top 25 by MasterCard: 1. UNLV, 2. Georgia, 3. Georgia Tech, 4. Clemson, 5. Oklahoma State, 6. Houston, 7. TCU, 8. Arizona State, 9. South Carolina, 10. Florida, 11. UCLA, 12. Minnesota, 13. Arizona, 14. North Carolina, 15. Arkansas, 16. New Mexico, 17. Oklahoma, 18. East Tennessee State, 19. Auburn, Ohio State, 21. Texas, 22. California, 23. Brigham Young, 24. Southern California, 25. NC State.