Stanley Finishes Second at NCAA Tournament
Clemson, SC—Clemson All-American Kyle Stanley completed his collegiate career in grand style on Thursday with a five under par round of 66 at the NCAA golf championship at Inverness in Toledo, OH. Stanley finished with a 54-hole total of four under par 209, good enough for second place all alone and just two shots off the figure posted by NC State’s Matt Hill, the individual champion.
It was the third top 10 finish for Stanley in his Clemson career. He finished second in 2007, seventh last year and second this year. He is the first Clemson golfer in history to record three top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championship. He concludes his career with a 70.7 stroke average for 11 NCAA national tournament rounds, the best in Clemson history.
It was actually the second time in his career that he finished just two shots off the pace in the national championship. As a freshman in 2007 he finished just two shots behind national champion Jamie Lovemark of Southern California. Lovemark was injured this year and did not compete in the NCAA Tournament. Stanley joins former All-American Charles Warren as the only Clemson golfers to finish at least runner up in different NCAA national tournaments. Warren won the National Championship in 1997 and finished second in 1998.
Stanley’s round of 66 tied for his season best and his five under par score tied for his best versus par in an NCAA Tournament round. He had a five under par 65 in the 2007 national tournament. It was also the lowest score in Clemson history for a Tiger golfer in his final career round.
Stanley will turn professional after the United States Open and is slated to make his professional debut on the PGA Tour through a sponsor’s exemption in the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT on June 25. He will also play in the John Deere Classic in July.
Stanley’s round included six birdies and one bogey. He made six birdie putts, all from 3-20 feet. He reached 16 of the 18 greens in regulation. “I hit the ball much better on my approach shots with my irons today and that was the key,” said Stanley, who will be named a first-team All-American for the second time in his Clemson career.
“I was very pleased with the way I played today and glad I could end my Clemson career on a high note. I was just more confident with my irons today. I didn’t make any physical change to my swing, it was all mental.”
Clemson Head Coach Larry Penley followed Stanley every step of the way. “It has been a long time since I have seen one of my players perform like that,” said Penley. “It was fun to watch. He was just so consistent. He was aggressive, going at the flags on just about every hole. He was very good with his mid-irons and made something happen all day.
“Kyle has meant so much for this program. He has been a special player and I am excited to see what he can do at the next level. I think he will be very successful.”
Stanley played the back nine first and got off to a great start with birdies on the 11th, 13th and 15th holes. He made a 15-footer on 11, a five-footer on 13 and a 13-footer on 15 to move up the leader board. He started the day in 19th place, five shots out of the lead, but six holes in he was in sixth place.
He stumbled for the only time all day when he made a bogey on the 16th hole, but he came back with a birdie on the 18th hole. It was his third straight birdie on 18 and he was one of just two players in the 156-player field to birdie the 18th hole all three days.
He moved to four under par for the day when he made a 20-foot putt on the first hole and reached five under for the day with a birdie on the fourth hole. Hill’s lead was just one shot when Hill made a bogey on the par four seventh hole, the 16th hole of the day for the two golfers who were paired together for all 54 holes of the tournament.
The par five eighth hole proved to be a deciding hole. Both golfers drove the ball in the middle of the fairway and had four irons to the green. But, Stanley’s second shot went into a green side bunker and Hill’s landed safely on the green. Stanley hit his bunker shot within eight feet of the hole, but he missed the birdie putt. Hill two-putted for birdie from 20 feet and went back to a two shot lead with one hole to play. Both players made par on the final hole.
Kyle Stanley at NCAA Championships 72-71-66 209 -4 2nd