Durham, NC-D.J. Trahan, John Engler and Jani Saari all had under-par final
rounds, leading Clemson to a second-place finish at the NCAA men's golf
championships at Duke University. The finished tied for the best finish
in Clemson history. The Tigers were also second in 1998 at the NCAA
championships held in Albuquerque, NM. It marked the fifth straight year
that Larry Penley's team recorded a top 10 finish, the third time in the
last five years Clemson finished in the top five in the nation.
Clemson made a strong finish on Saturday. Earlier in the day, the Tigers
completed the third round, which had been delayed by rain on Friday
afternoon. Clemson finished off the third round with a 279 team score,
nine-under-par, the best third round of the tournament. The Tigers then
shot 282 as a team in the final round, giving Clemson a 15-under-par score
for the last 36 holes. The comeback allowed Clemson to jump from eighth
place to the final second-place ranking. Florida was too tough to catch,
as the Gators finished at 27-under.
Trahan was Clemson's top scorer on Saturday and the top Tiger for the
tournament. The talented sophomore had a three-under-par 69 on Saturday
afternoon, after finishing his third round 71 earlier in the day. He had a
283 total for the event, five-under-par. It marked the second straight
year that Trahan had been Clemson's top finisher at the NCAA national. By
virtue of his seventh place finish, he is assured of being named at least
an honorable mention All-American for the second straight year.
Trahan did not have an errant shot all day. He had one bogey and four
birdies in recording his fourth straight round of par or better at the
event. He now has eight career rounds in NCAA national play and seven of
the eight are at par or better, a first in Clemson golf history for a
sophomore. "I hit the ball solid coming down the stretch," said Trahan.
"The last four holes on this course are difficult, but I left myself
chances to score coming in. That's all you can ask for."
Trahan has been Mr. Clutch at the NCAA national event in his two years.
In his two years with the Tigers he has played 64 rounds of golf. He is
11-under-par for the eight NCAA national rounds he has played and is 48
over par for the other 56 rounds.
Saari, perhaps the greatest number-five player in Clemson golf history,
started the final round of his Clemson career with a double bogey. But,
he played four-under par golf the rest of the way. He birdied the par five
ninth hole for the third time in four days, and also had a birdie on the
16th that were keys to his round. "What can you say about Jani Saari,"
said Penley. "How many guys can make a double bogey on the first hole,
then come back to shoot 70. His score has counted all but one NCAA
Tournament round in his career. That says a lot."
Engler completed his record setting Clemson career with a 70 to record a
top 20 finish for his career. He shot a 287 for the event, one-under-par
and was 17th. He had three consecutive birdies on 13, 14 and 15 in the
final round to spark the Tigers comeback. He finished his career as
Clemson's all-time leader in stroke average (71.84), rounds under par (68),
rounds at par or better (95) and rounds at 75 or better. His top hole of
the day might have been the 17th on Saturday, a hole he parred. Engler hit
his second shot to the par four over the green. With no green to work
with, he hit a flop shoot onto the green just inches from the hole.
Lucas Glover finished his third round 69, then shot 73 in his final round
as a Tiger. The grandson of Clemson Hall of Fame Athlete Dick Hendley is
destined to join his grandfather with that honor some day. He shot a 285
for the event, three under par to finish 11th, his second top 12 finish in
his career. He concluded his career ranked second in Clemson history in
career stroke average, under-par round and rounds in the 60s.
Freshman Gregg Jones finished off his third round 68 on Saturday morning.
It was the low round of the tournament by a Clemson golfer. It was the
second straight NCAA Tournament in which he fired a 68, giving Larry Penley
reason to smile towards the future. Jones had a 74 in his final round on
Saturday, but finished with a solid 294, six over par. He birdied the
457-yard par 4 18th hole twice on Saturday.
"I am very happy with the effort we gave this week. We played as hard as
we can play. We really could never get the putters going in this
tournament. Florida was outstanding, what can you say. Winning this
golf tournament on this course by 20 shots is just amazing. They are to be
congratulated. But, I am proud of my team, they never gave up. They
played hard even though they knew they weren't going to win the National
Championship. That says something about the character of this team. I
can't put into words what these seniors have done for this golf program.
We are really going to miss them."