New London, NC -
-Gregg Jones and Stephen Poole had final round scores of 69 to lead Clemson to a 10-under-par team round and the championship of the ACC men's golf tournament on Sunday. Clemson finished with a team score of 837, 27-under-par for the three rounds. The performance was just one shot off the ACC Tournament record or 836 set by the 1998 Clemson team at the same Old North State Club course at New London, NC.
It marked the second straight year that Clemson has won the ACC title, the third time Clemson has won in back to back years under Head Coach Larry Penley. It was the eighth ACC title overall for Penley, who was recently inducted into the College Golf Hall of Fame. He led the Tigers to the 2003 NCAA Championship.
Clemson entered the event with a seven shot lead over NC State, the finished the tournament eight shots ahead of Wake Forest. It was the largest margin of victory for Clemson in the ACC Tournament since winning the 1997 event by 10 shots. It was Clemson's first victory of the year, the first since Clemson won the NCAA title at the end of last season.The Demon Deacons ended the 54 holes at 19 under-par, good enough to win most years, but still well back of Clemson's team figure.
Georgia Tech, who had a tournament best 274 team score on Sunday, finished third with an 848 team total. N.C State was fourth at 854, wh ile North Carolina was fifth at 856. Duke, the only ACC team to defeat Clemson twice this year, was sixth at 857. Florida State was seventh at 875, followed by Virginia at 882 and Maryland at 905.
Jones and Poole led Clemson with final round 69s, while Matt Hendrix and Jack Ferguson had 70s. Brian Duncan, who had a counting score each of the first two days, had a 74 on Sunday. Sunday's final round marked just the second time all year that Clemson had four players shoot under par on the same round. Clemson also did it at the Jerry Pate Invitational in Birmingham, AL on October 13.
"We had everyone in the game today, that was important," said Penley, who now has won 55 tournaments in his 21 years as Clemson coach. "Unlike yesterday, we got off to a slow start. But, we got it going on holes 4-13 and that got us a 10 stroke lead for most of the back nine.
"Gregg Jones and Stephen Poole were huge for us today. Gregg has not played up to his normal scores of late, but he had a terrific round today. He finished strong with four birdies over his 11 holes. He played with confidence and that is important.
"Poole has just been so steady. He has come on in the spring with three top 10 finishes. The only person I can compare it to is Thump Delk who came out of no where to finish third at the NCAAs in 1993. But, Thump did that as a senior. Poole is a sophomore and is really planting seeds for the future. He started off two over par then finished three under. He really keeps his composure. He has shown the composure of a champion."
Ferguson was Clemson's top golfer for the tournament overall with a 10-under-par 206. He finished second to Wake Forest freshman Sean Moore, who beat him by a stroke. Moore made a birdie on the final hole, while Ferguson made a par. Ferguson was third last year and has now been Clemson's top golfer at the ACC Tournament two straight years.
Hendrix finished with a 208 score for the 54 holes eight under par an tied for third. It was his sixth top 10 finish this year, his fourth top five finish in the spring. Poole finished sixth overall with a 210 total, six under par. It marked the first time since 2000 that Clemson had three players finish in the top six individually.
Jones broke out of a slump with his 69 on Sunday. It was his low score in the last 19 rounds, dating to a 66 at the North Florida Collegiate on Feb. 9. It had been 11 rounds since he had broken par. Duncan finished with a 74 on Sunday to end the tournament with a 218 total, the same figure as Jones. Both players finish in a tie for 21st.
Clemson at NCAA Tournament
Jack Ferguson 69 67 70 206 -10 2nd
Matt Hendrix 70 68 70 208 -8 3rd
Stephen Poole 72 69 69 210 -6 6th
Gregg Jones 76 73 69 218 +2 21st
Brian Duncan 73 71 74 218 +2 21
Team 284 275 278 837 -27 1st