Hot Springs, VA-Matt Hendrix shot a second round 68, his low NCAA National Tournament round as a Clemson golfer, to lead Clemson to a 290 team score in the second round of the NCAA men's golf tournament at the Cascades
Course at the Homestead on Wednesday.
Clemson is in 13th after two rounds of the NCAA golf tournament at Hot Springs, VA, but the Tigers are just seven shots out of first place. California is in first at 568, followed by Kentucky a 569 and BYU at 570. Washington and Pepperdine are tied for fourth at 571. Pepperdine shot a 276 on Wednesday, four under par, and the low round of the tournament.
Georgia State and UCLA are tied for sixth at 572, followed by TCU and Arizona at 573. Florida, Texas and Georgia Tech are all one shot ahead of the Tigers in a tie for 10th.
To show you how close the team scores are grouped, Clemson would be tied for fourth if it had played the 12th hole in even par on Wednesday. Clemson was four over as a team for that one hole and that is the difference between 13th and fourth after two rounds.
Individually, Matt Hendrix is at 139 and tied for 10th, Jack Ferguson is at 142, tied for 23rd, Gregg Jones is at 147 and tied for 75th, Brent Delahoussaye and Stephen Poole are both at 149 and tied for 100th.
Clemson got off to a slow start and was three over par as a team after
three holes. The Tigers finished the front nine at five over par as a
team thanks to a two-under opening nine by Hendrix and an even par score by Stephen Poole.
All five Clemson golfers made a bogey on the 476-yard par four 12th hole, putting Clemson at nine over par for the day through 12 holes. Clemson finished the round at 10 over for the day, thanks to a birdie by Jack Ferguson on the par three 18th and a fine up and down par by Hendrix at the same hole.
Hendrix had birdies on 1, 3 and 16 and his only bogey of the day on 16 in carding his 68. He is now at 139 for the two rounds, ranking among the top 10 in the field as of 3:30 PM. He has seven birdies and six bogeys so far in the tournament. He is hoping that the third round is a magic day for him on Thursday, as it was last year. In 2003 he shot a three-under-par 69 at Oklahoma State's Karsten Creek Course, the low round of the tournament for Clemson during its run to the national championship. "It was an easy 68, I hit the ball extremely well and I gave my self a lot of birdie opportunities," said Hendrix, who graduated from Clemson on May
7. "It really could have been a 64 of 65. I can't complain about a 68.
I birdied the first hole and that got me going. That was especially important because I had finished Tuesday's round with consecutive bogeys. I was ready to play today. I gave too much back to the golf course yesterday and I wasn't going to make that mistake today."
Hendrix was the only Clemson player under par. In fact, Larry Penley's other four golfers shot 73-74-75-76 to register the 290 team total. It was the second straight tournament that Clemson struggled in the second round. Clemson shot an 11 over par 291 at the Yale University Course at the East Regional on May 21 and fell four shots out of the lead and in fourth place. But Clemson came back to win the tournament in the third round when it shot 277 as a team on the final day. This championship is scheduled for four rounds, with a cut to the top 15 teams coming after Thursday's third round.
Ferguson, Clemson's second best golfer in terms of stroke average over the course of the season, was the second best Tiger on Tuesday with a 73. He had a double bogey and two bogeys over his first 12 holes, then made a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 for his first birdie of the day and a three over par total for his work on Tuesday. Ferguson entered the NCAA Tournament 22nd in the country in total birdies with 137. Ferguson missed six putts from 10 feet and in, many that lipped the cup.
"Stephen Poole fired at four over par 74. He turned even par, then made
four consecutive bogeys on holes 12-15. He birdied the 17th hole, but
bogeyed the 18th when his approach to the 203-yard par three was a bit short. Still Poole's score counted towards Clemson's team total for the 17th time in 20 rounds this year.
Brent Delahoussaye, Clemson's top golfer at the NCAA East Regional, counted for the second straight with a five over 75. He had six bogeys and
a birdie on the day after nine hole scores of 38-37. His only birdie came
at the par five 17, but he finished with a bogey on 18 when he also hit his approach shot short.
Graduate Gregg Jones got off to a slow start with a double bogey and a bogey early and finished with a 76, the high school by a Clemson golfer on Tuesday. Jones is starting in his fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament and is trying to become the first athlete in Clemson history (regardless of
sport) to start for four Clemson teams that finished the season ranked in the top three in the nation.
"Yesterday was average golf and today was bad golf," said Clemson head coach Larry Penley. "Until we can figure out how to play good golf, we
aren't going to be in the thick of this tournament. However, you never
know what the wind could do at this golf course. We will just have to see how things finish today.
"I am surprised we have struggled like this so far. The game plans have
been good, I don't see a lot of mental mistakes so far. Today it was bad shots, missing fairways and a lot of three putts. It is hard to make up
ground on this course when you are missing fairways.
"All that said, I think we can still compete for the championship if we play well the last two days. But, we aren't in a situation where we can play average, we have to play well the last two days.
"I was pleased with the way Matt Hendrix played. That was his low round
at Clemson in the NCAA national tournament. He didn't make lot of
mistakes, except on 17 when he didn't drive the ball in the fairway. He ended with a par on that hole, but he certainly could have made a birdie. But, overall, he was consistent and the result was a fine day."