May 27, 1998
Albuquerque, NM–Clemson seniors Charles Warren and Joey Maxon both shot three-under par 69s on Wednesday to lead the Tigers to a 283 team score and a fifth place standing after the first day of the NCAA National Tournament. The Tigers trail first place Oklahoma State by five shots in the logjammed field that will be cut to 15 teams plus ties after Thursday’s second round.
Oklahoma State leads the field after a 278 team score, 10-under par. The Cowboys had four players shoot 70 or better. Georgia is second at 279, while Georgia Tech, who played with Clemson on Wednesday, was at 281. Florida is fourth at 282, while the Tigers are fifth at 283. UNLV and Ohio State are at 284, while South Carolina and Fresno State stand at 285.
The individual leaders are Kyle Voska of Miami (OH), Ryan Armour of Ohio State and J.J. Henry of TCU, who all had 67s. Maxon and Warren are tied for ninth.
Warren and Maxon have both been on a hot streak for the Tigers over the last month. For Warren, the defending NCAA Champion , it was his eighth consecutive round under par and his 10th straight at par or better, an all-time Clemson record. The native of Columbia, sank an eight-foot eagle putt on the ninth hole, his last hole of the day, to record the three-under par round, Maxon, who like Warren received his degree from Clemson two weeks ago, had his fifth consecutive round under par and is now 11-under for his last 13 rounds of golf.
Larry Penley’s team was also bolstered by the play of freshman John Engler, who shot a 71. It tied the Clemson record for the lowest first-round NCAA Tournament score by a freshman. Bobby Doolittle had a 71 in his first round of NCAA national play in 1990 at Innisbrook Golf Resort at Tarpon Springs, FL. Engler, a native of Augusta, GA, is now 11 under par for his last seven rounds of golf.
Sophomore Jonathan Byrd had a birdie on his last hole and shot 74, while Greenville, SC freshman Lucas Glover had a 76. Clemson’s 283 team round was its 18th under-par round of the season, an all-time Clemson record. It was also the seventh consecutive team round under par for the Tigers, also a Clemson record.
Despite the records, Clemson is in the middle of a group of 13 teams that had under-par team rounds, a rarity for an NCAA Tournament. “It was actually a disappointing round today because we probably made more mistakes today than we have in the last month,” said Clemson head coach Larry Penley. “We are going to have to eliminate those mistakes to get back in the hunt for the championship. We have been outstanding getting to the green, but our play around the greens has been poor. We look confused when we get to the greens. We played this way in the practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday. Fourtunately, our ball-striking is as good as anyone in the country.”
“Hopefully we can improve tomorrow morning,” said Warren, who is playing his 50th and final tournament for the Tigers. “Someone is going to take it deep in the morning because the wind does not kick up until the afternoon. We were lucky today that the wind was not strong in the afternoon. The wind here can make a four to five stroke difference in your score.”
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