Hot Springs, VA-The Clemson golf team played the back nine in 14 over par on Thursday afternoon and missed the cut for the final round of the NCAA Tournament at the Cascades Course at the Homestead in Hot Springs, VA. Clemson shot a 297 for the round, a 17-over par figure for the par 70 course, the second highest round vs. par by the Tigers this year and the program's highest figure vs. par in the NCAA national tournament since 1999 at Hazeltine in Edina, MN.
Clemson finished the tournament 18th and missed the cut by just one shot. The Tigers were 32 over par for the tournament, with a score of 872. UCLA was five under par on Thursday, the best round of the tournament, and holds the individual lead at seven-over-par for the 54 holes. Kentucky, the central region champion is second at 12 over par.
The result was an abrupt ending to Clemson's defense of its 2003 national
championship. It was the first time Clemson failed to make the cut at any
portion of an NCAA Tournament since 1995 when the Tigers were 21st at Ohio State. Clemson had finished in the top 10 each of the last seven years, and in the top three in five of those seven seasons.
Clemson's downfall on Thursday was holes 12-15. It was a difficult
stretch for the Tigers all week, but especially on Thursday when the wind kicked up at the wrong time at the Cascades Course, a course Sam Snead played in his youth. Clemson was 13-over-par for holes 12-15, so it was obvious where Clemson stumbled.
Clemson played the 12th hole in four over par on Wednesday, then was five over as a team on Thursday. Ironically, the only Clemson golfer to par the hole on Thursday was Stephen Poole, who ended the day with a 79, a score that did not count towards Clemson's team total. Brent Delahoussaye, who played the first 11 holes in even par, bogeyed the 12th, then triple bogeyed the 13th. Gregg Jones and Matt Hendrix both double bogeyed the par
3 15th hole.
Jack Ferguson played holes 12-15 in even par, including a
birdie on 15th after he hit his tee shot four feet from the pin. But, Ferguson made a bogey on the 17th hole, a par five in which he hit his third shot to within six feet of the pin before it spun back off the green.
"I am obviously disappointed in our play today and this week," said head coach Larry Penley, who still led the Tigers to a top 20 finish for the
18th time in his 21 years as Clemson coach. "We didn't play well in many
phases of the game, but if I had to pick one area it would be putting. We
never got comfortable on these greens. There is no reason for this
either, because we played here in the fall (finishing 3rd at the Preview) and today was our fifth round this week (two practice) on the course.
"We were totally confused by these greens. From 12-15 we made four
doubles and a triple. We got what we deserved. I am disappointed for
Matt and Gregg, they were part of the national championship last year and
two other top three teams. This is a difficult way to end.
"We played well over the course of the year, especially at the conference tournament and the regional, but it was not there this week. For somewhere we played scared. We were tentative this week and we couldn't seem to get them out of it. We would hit three woods off the tee and we would still hit it in the rough.
"I didn't see this coming because I really thought we could win it again. I could see this if it happened next year because we will be young. But we had a lot of NCAA experience coming here and we were playing well. I don't know why this week was different but it was."
Jones was Clemson's top golfer on Thursday in his 142nd and final round as
a Tiger. He was one under par after six holes, then hit an approach shot
to the seventh that was right on line, but his shot rolled off the back of the green a foot into the rough. He failed to get up and down and it
started a stretch of seven over par play for an eight hole period. But
the graduate from Florence, SC finished strong with birdies on 16, 17 and 18, the only Tiger to have a run of three consecutive birdies all week.
Delahoussaye concluded with a 74. As stated previously, he played the first 11 holes in even par, then was five over between holes 12 and 15. He
birdied the 17th hole and made a par on 18 to finish with the 74. It was
his third straight round of 74 or 75 this week. It was a strong finish to
the season for the junior from Greenville, SC. He had finished 75th out
of 90 golfers at the Augusta State Intercollegiate on April 3-4, but finished with seven straight counting rounds in the NCAA Tournaments.
Ferguson shot a 74 in the third round, giving him a 216 figure for the
week, second behind Matt Hendrix among Clemson golfers for the week. His
play on the par five 17 hole typified Clemson's day. His third shot from
100 yards landed six free from the pin that was cut at the front right of the green, but the ball spun back off the green and rested against the
collar. It left him a near impossible fourth shot and he made bogey
instead of having a six foot birdie putt.
Hendrix struggled all day, especially with the putter. He made a double
bogey on 15 when he three putted from 15 feet, then bogeyed the last hole when he three putted from 25 feet. Still, Hendrix finished with a 215 score for the tournament and was Clemson's top finisher.
Stephen Poole got off to a difficult start on Thursday when he had a
double bogey on the second hole and a triple bogey on the fourth. He did
have the shot of the day by a Clemson golfer when he hit his nine iron to within a foot on the par three eighth hole. He tapped in for a birdie. Poole, playing in his first NCAA Tournament, had a three round total of 228, 18 over par.
Matt Hendrix 71 68 76 215
Jack Ferguson 69 73 74 216
Gregg Jones 71 76 73 220
Brent Delahousseye 74 75 74 223
Stephen Poole 75 74 79 228
Team 285 290 297 872