June 5, 1999
Chaska, MN – Lucas Glover, Jonathan Byrd and Jani Saari all had top 25 individual finishes to lead Clemson to a tie for eighth at the NCAA men’s golf tournament at Hazeltine Country Club in Chaska, MN. Clemson shot a disappointing 306 on the final day and finished with a team score of 1199, the same figure as Houston.
Clemson had led the tournament after 36 holes with a +14 score. But, the Tigers played the last 36 holes in +33. Still, the number-eight finish is the sixth best in Clemson history. It is Clemson’s third straight top 10 national ranking in golf, the first time Clemson has ever had three consecutive top 10 finishes in golf.
Glover shot a final round 76 that included a double bogey on the difficult 16th hole. He finished at 295 for the event, eighth best along with Chris Wisler of East Tennessee State. By virtue of his top 10 ranking, Glover was automatically an All-American. It was his first top 10 finish since the Golf Digest in March when he was fifth. The key to Glover’s performance all week was his putting. He did not three-putt any of the 72 holes.
Another native of Greenville was also outstanding for the Tigers. Jani Saari had a 75 on Saturday, Clemson’s best individual round of the final day. Saari finished with a 300 total and ranked 23rd in the field. Saari played well down the stretch each day. In fact, he was two-under-par for the final six holes throughout the tournament. His score counted towards Clemson’s team total each of the four days, something only Glover could also claim.
“I can’t say enough about Jani’s play all week,” said Head Coach Larry Penley. “He really keeps his emotions on an even keel, yet had the mental toughness to play very well this week. I thought going in if he played well as our number-five man we had a chance to win the national championship. He held up his end of the bargain.”
Byrd finished in a tie for 16th, but shot an 80 on Saturday. It was three shots higher than any previous round he had all season. Still, he was at 299 for the event, 11 over par. Byrd was played steady on Saturday until he hit his tee shot in the water on the eighth hole. He then bogied the ninth and had 40 on each nine.
Clemson’s second best player on Saturday was freshman Michael Hoey. The native of Ireland playing in his first tournament, had struggled in the first three rounds, but shot a 76 on the final day. He ended the event at 315.
John Engler, Clemson’s number-one player this spring, again struggled on the par 72 Hazeltine layout. He shot a 79 on Saturday, giving him a four-day total of 311. Engler entered the tournament one under par for 36 rounds of golf this year, but was 23 over for the four rounds at Hazeltine. Double bogies on 16 and 17 spoiled his round on Saturday. Engler had been Mr. consistency prior to the national tournament with every round at 77 or better this year. But, he had his highest three rounds at the NCAAs.
Clemson head coach Larry Penley was disappointed with his team’s finish. “The last two rounds were typical of the second half of our spring season. We never had all five players put it together the last month of the season. Today, Jani and Lucas were playing well, but the others did not. To win here you have to have all five playing well.
“It is strange to say I am disappointed with a top 10 finish, but I feel we are better than we showed here. I thought we had the team to compete for the national championship, and we showed that the first 36 holes. But, we lacked the mental toughness down the stretch. We will work on that next year. We will have a lot more qualifying for tournaments next year.”
Clemson will have all five starters back next season. Plus there are four signees joining the program, plus red-shirt freshman Ben Duncan. The Tigers won a record tying five tournaments this year and were ranked number-one in the nation in all three polls for a month during the Spring season.
Saturday’s number-eight finish is the 13th top 20 finish for the Tigers under Larry Penley, including a 12th top 15 finish in the last 13 years. Georgia won the national championship with a 1180 team score, three strokes better than Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had held the lead after the first and third rounds and had won the event every four years since 1983. Northwestern was third and Washington fourth.
The individual victory was claimed by Luke Donald of Northwestern, who had a 284 total, including a 71 on Saturday. Ryuji of Georgia finished second with a 287 score, along with Troy Kelly of Washington. Ryuji had a 67 on Saturday, the low individual round of the tournament.
Clemson Individuals at NCAA Tournament
Lucas Glover 72-73-74-76 295 8th Jonathan Byrd 73-73-73-80 299 16th Jani Saari 75-73-77-75 300 23rd John Engler 73-80-79-79 311 68th Michael Hoey 81-78-80-76 315 74th Team 293-297-303-306 1199 8th
1. Georgia 1180 2. Oklahoma State 1183 3. Northwestern 1188 4. Washington 1189 5. Arizona State 1192 6. UNLV 1195 7. BYU 1196 8. Clemson 1199 Houston 1199 10. North Carolina 1201 11. Minnesota 1208 12. Florida 1216 13. East Tennessee State 1217 14. Nebraska 1218 15. Illinois 1219
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