June 4, 2003
*Clemson won its first NCAA Golf Championship and fourth NCAA team title in school history with its victory at Karsten Creek on May 30, 2003. Clemson won the event on Oklahoma State’s home course. The Cowboys had won nine NCAA titles, including eight under current coach Mike Holder.
*Clemson has now been to the NCAA national tournament 22 consecutive years, 20 in a row under Larry Penley. Only Oklahoma State with 57 in a row has a longer streak than Clemson.
*Clemson had a final round of 303, ironically, its high round of the year. In fact, it was the high round for a Clemson team over 66 rounds dating back to last year. Clemson enters the 2003-04 season with a streak of 18 consecutive top three finishes, a Clemson record.
*Clemson had a 287 team round in the third round, the only under par team round of the tournament. Only one individual was under par out of the 156-player field, an indication of the difficulty of the Karsten Creek Course.
*Larry Penley was named National Coach of the Year by the Golf Coach’s Association after his team won the NCAA Tournament. He was the first Clemson coach in any sport to win a National Coach of the Year award since Bob Pollock was named Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1992. Other Clemson coaches to win National Coach of the Year have been Danny Ford (football, 1981) and Chuck Kriese (men’s tennis 1981, and 1986).
*Clemson had three players named to All-America teams at the conclusion of the season. D.J. Trahan was named first team, Jack Ferguson was a second-team selection and Matt Hendrix was a third team choice. Gregg Jones was an all-district selection along with the aforementioned players. All four were also named All-ACC. Jones was a second-team All-American in 2002, meaning Clemson will have three returning players for 2004 who have been named first, second or third team All-American at some time in their career. The 2004 team will be the first in school history with three returning All-Americans.
*This was just the second team in Clemson history with three different players named first, second or third team All-American. The 1999-00 team also had one player named to each team. That year Lucas Glover was a first-team selection, John Engler was named second team and Jonathan Byrd was a third-team selection. Clemson has now had at least one first-team All-American for seven straight years. Clemson has had 13 first-team selections, seven second-team choices and six third-team selections to go with 19 honorable mentions in Penley’s 20 years as head coach.
*Trahan became the fifth two-time first-team All-American in Clemson history. He is joined by Chris Patton (1989-90), Charles Warren (1997-98), Lucas Glover (2000-01).
*The par five 624-yard ninth hole proved to be pivotal for Clemson during the tournament. Clemson’s five players were a combined 12-under-par, including four under during the last round. That was Clemson’s best hole of the tournament. Clemson’s five players were under par for the tournament on five of the 18 holes. Clemson played the difficult 17th hole at 16 over, including six-over par by Jack Ferguson, Clemson’s top player at the event. Ferguson was six over for the 17th and just four-over on the other 17 holes combined.
*With Clemson’s national championship, the program now has three consecutive top three finishes. The Clemson golf team was second in the nation at the 2001 NCAA Tournament and third in 2002. This is the first time in school history a sports program has had three straight top three finishes. D.J. Trahan were starters on all three teams, making them the only athletes in Clemson history to start on three different teams ranked in the top three in the nation. Jones will have a chance to make it four in a row next year.
*With its victory at the NCAA Tournament, Clemson became the first golf program in history to win its conference, NCAA regional and NCAA national championships in the same year.
*Ben Duncan was a key to the victory for Clemson. The graduate had an opening round 85, then saw his score count towards Clemson’s team total each of the last three days. That included a 73 in the second round that was the best score by a Clemson golfer that day. When he went from an 85 the first day to 73 the second it tied the Clemson record for improvement from one round to the next in NCAA national tournament play. Mark Swygert also had a 12-stroke improvement during he 1991 NCAA Tournament at Poppy Hills, CA when he went from an 83 to a 71 between the third and final rounds.
*Clemson won the NCAA Tournament with a balanced squad. Clemson did not have a player finish in the top 15 of the individual race, but was the only team in the 30-team field with five players in the top 52.
*Next year Clemson will attempt to become the first team to repeat as NCAA Champion since Houston in 1985. The Cougars won the 1984 and 1985 events. Eight different teams have won the NCAA golf championship over the last eight years.
*Clemson accomplished quite a bit in 2002-03, but they did not set the school record for team stroke average. But, they did come close! The 1999-00 team still holds the mark with a 71.317 stroke average. The 2002-03 Clemson team had a 71.320 average. This year’s team had 11,126 (counting) strokes as a team. Had they had 11,125, they would have broke the record. In other words, they missed the record by just one stroke over the entire season.
*During the third round of play Ben Duncan became the first Clemson golfer to kill a snake during an NCAA Tournament. While surviving a long wait on the 16th tee, he spied the snake making its way to the tee area. He solved the problem with a five iron.
*It was a strong year for ACC Golf, as five of the top 15 and six of the top 20 at the NCAA were from the ACC.
*Clemson had three of the top 10 rated players in the nation according to the final Golfweek/Sagarin poll. D.J. Trahan was second, Jack Ferguson was fifth and Matt Hendrix was ninth. It marked the first time Clemson had three of the top 10 players in the final rankings. The ACC had five of the top 10 players listed.
*Clemson finished the season with six tournament victories, a school record. The previous record was five, held by the 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1998-99 Clemson teams.
*Larry Penley now has 54 career tournament victories, including the six this year. He is believed to be second to Mike Holder (Oklahoma State) among active coaches in terms of tournament victories. He has now tied former Clemson soccer coach Dr. I.M. Ibrahim for the most top 25 seasons in a career with 19. Only one of his first 20 Clemson golf teams has failed to finish a season in the top 25. Penley now has 17 top 20 teams, 10 top 10s and seven top five finishes. He is second to Ibrahim in all three areas.
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