Hot Springs, VA-Jack Ferguson shot a one-under-par 69 and graduates Gregg Jones and Matt Hendrix both added one-over-par 71s to lead Clemson to a five-over-par 285 team total and a seventh place standing after the first day of the NCAA men's golf tournament at Hot Springs, VA. The 30-team national championship tournament is being played through Friday, 18 holes per day, at the Cascades Course at the Homestead.
California holds the lead with a one under par 279, followed by BYU, who
shot an even par 280. TCU is third at 281, followed by Auburn and
Kentucky at 283. Southern Cal if sixth at 284, followed by Clemson, Florida and Georgia at 285. Florida entered the event ranked number-one in the nation and was nine over par at one point before finishing at 5 over.
Clemson is the defending NCAA Champion and is trying to become he first school to repeat as NCAA Champion since Houston went back to back in 1984-85. Clemson is in the NCAA National tournament for the 21st consecutive year, second longest streak in college golf behind Oklahoma
State's active streak of 58 straight. The Tigers have finished in the top
10 of the national tournament seven consecutive years.
Ferguson's round included back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes, his 11th and 12th holes of the day. He finished with an adventurous
par on the ninth hole, his 18th of the day. He drove the ball into the
rough next to a cooler used by a tournament fore-caddy. He got a free
drop, but was still in the rough next to a tree. He pitched to within 90
yards of the green, then got up and down when he made a 15-foot putt.
"I had been struggling off the tee and I had been working on that area of
the game coming into this tournament. I was happy with the par I made on
my last hole. The wind got me on the par three (15) and I made a double bogey. But, I didn't let it bother me because the wind was blowing so
strong. It was really my only bad hole all day. It was just one of
those things, the wind was blowing about 30 miles an hour at the time. But, I came back with birdies in two and three."
It was a strong performance for Ferguson who had back problems at the NCAA Regional Tournament at the Yale University Course 10 days ago. He was
Clemson's worst golfer at that tournament with a 12 over par score. But,
his 69 led the way on Tuesday and it was a four stroke improvement from the pair of 73s he had shot for the Tigers at The Preview last fall.
Jones and Hendrix had the same score on Tuesday, but they reached their 71
total in different fashions. Jones was the model of consistency with 17
pars and one bogey. He entered the tournament ranked in the top 20 in the
nation in pars per round. He hit all but three fairways and did have
three one-putt greens for pars, but he did three-putt the par five fifth
hole, his 14th of the day. Jones was Clemson's top golfer with a
fifth-place finish at the Preview back in September, a national college
tournament held at the same course.
I played very hard on the first nine holes, but I scrambled a bit," said
Jones. " I was happy to be even par at that point. The wind was tough
at one point on the first nine. I had 30 yards left on the par 3 15th hole, but got up and down. If the wind wasn't up that could have been a
birdie hole. The wind died down on the back nine, but I didn't make any
putts. Every time I got close I had hard time getting a good read. I had
some birdie tries, but I never made one. Overall, I was happy with the
way I played, but I know I can score better."
Hendrix had four birdies, high among Clemson golfers on Tuesday, but he
also had five bogeys, including each of his last two holes. The native
of Aiken, SC made a birdie on the seventh hole, his 16th of the day, when he hit a an iron from deep rough to within eight feet of the hole. He then made the putt for birdie. But, Hendrix hit an iron over the green on the 155-yard eighth hole and made bogey, then three putted from 12 feet to make bogey on the ninth hole, his final hole of the day. Brent Delahoussaye, who was Clemson's top golfer at the NCAA East Regional with a 211 score, and a top 10 finisher at the Preview in the fall, shot a 74 on Tuesday. He was five over par at one point, then had two birdies before scoring a bogey on the ninth hole, his final hole of the day. Stephen Poole scored a five-over par 75 and his score did not count towards Clemson's team score.
"We were very average today," said Clemson head coach Larry Penley. "With the exception of a five-hole stretch on our first nine when the wind kicked up, this course was there for the taking. We just didn't take advantage of it. We left some shots out there, especially coming in when we counted
three bogeys on the last two holes. Perhaps that is why I have a bad
taste in my mouth right now about today round, we finished poorly.
"If the weather stays like this (70 degrees and sunny), some team will
shoot a low score, a 273 or something in that area. I think we are
capable of doing that, like we did at the regional at Yale, but I didn't see that today. We hit the ball in the fairway for the most part, but we just didn't hit any good shots to the green and we didn't make a lot of putts. We were just very average and will have to improve on Wednesday when we tee off at 7:00 AM."
Clemson Scores on Tuesday
Jack Ferguson 69 9th
Gregg Jones 71 30th
Matt Hendrix 71 30th
Brent Delahoussaye 74 88th
Stephen Poole 75 108th
Team 285 7th