March 17, 2006
Houston, TX-Stephen Poole fired an opening round 73 to lead Clemson to a seventh place standing out of 17 teams after the first round of the Hall of Fame Invitational in Humble, TX. The Tigers had a team score of 305, 17-over par on the par 72 Redstone Tournament Course that is 7,422 yards long.
The course played all of that and more as consistent, heavy winds affected the scores of the 79 golfers. Eight of the top 25 teams in the nation are in the field, including number-one ranked Georgia, who had a 308 team score on Friday.
“We all practiced on Thursday and the wind went in one direction, then today, it was from the opposite direction,” said Poole. “In some ways the practice round did us more harm than good because the wind was from the opposite direction.”
Texas played the last four holes at even par as a team and jumped for fourth place to first after the first round with a 293 team score. Oklahoma State is second at 294 and East Tennessee State is third at 295. Oklahoma is fourth at 300. Purdue and South Carolina Aiken are tied for fifth at 303, two strokes ahead of Clemson. TCU, Arizona, Georgia and Texas A&M are all tied for eighth at 308. ACC Schools Wake Forest and Duke are tied for 15th at 316.
Poole had a strong round of 73 that featured four birdies and five bogeys. His score is tied for seventh in the field. Only two golfers broke par and just four more shot even par. Anthony Kim of Oklahoma leads the tournament with a impressive first-round 67 that included five birdies and no bogeys. He has a four shot lead on Jhonatton Vegas of Texas.
Poole had birdies on the third and fourth holes as he made a pair of three-foot putts. He got up and down from the bunker for birdie on the par five fourth hole. He also birdied the par four 10th hole when he hit his drive to within 40 yards of the hole and made another short putt, then birdied the first hole, his final hole of the day, when he made a 15-foot putt.
“That was a good way to finish the round,” said Poole. “Hopefully I can continue that on Saturday.”
Vince Hatfield, a freshman from Greenwood playing in his second career tournament as a Tiger, had nine-hole scores of 39-37 to shoot a four over par 76. He is in a tie for 27th place. Hatfield had a top 15 round going, but bogeyed two of his last four holes.
Poole was the only Tiger to break 75 on Friday. Senior Brian Duncan, ranked 10th in the nation in the Sagarin individual rankings entering the event, got off to a rough start when he had a double bogey and triple bogey on consecutive holes on the front side. He then finished strong with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to shoot one -under par 35 on the back and a 77 score for the 18 holes. He stands in a tie for 36h place after 18 holes. Duncan has finished in the top 20 of every tournament so far this season.
Clemson freshmen David May and Luke Hopkins had rounds of 79 and 80, respectively. May had nine hole scores of 40-39 and had seven bogeys and no birdies on Friday. Hopkins was just three over for his first 14 holes, but had a triple bogey on the 17th hole, his 15th of the day, then bogeyed the first and second holds, his 17th and 18th holes of the day. It was Hopkins first career round as a Clemson golfer.
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