By Staff Report.
CLEMSON, SC — Clemson was one of 13 teams selected for the Colorado Regional of the NCAA Golf Tournament on Monday. The regional will be played May 19-21 at the Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, CO. The course features a 7,676-yard layout, including a par five that is 696 yards in length. The University of Colorado (Boulder) is the regional host.
Joining Clemson in the Colorado Regional field are: No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 9 Auburn, No. 12 Auburn, No. 31 Arizona State, No. 39 UT Chattanooga, No. 40 TCU, North Florida, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Colorado State, San Jose State and Denver. Clemson is ranked 25th in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin computer polls. The Colorado Regional is the only of the six sites to feature three of the nation’s top 12 ranked teams.
This is the 30th consecutive year the Clemson program has been selected as a team for the NCAA Men’s Golf Tournament, the 28th consecutive year under Head Coach Larry Penley. It is the longest streak of consecutive NCAA team tournament appearances in Clemson sports history. Only Oklahoma State has a longer streak among Division I golf programs.
“It’s always good to get in the tournament,” Penley said. “There weren’t going to be any short trips, wherever we were slated to go. We’re going to a part of the country we haven’t played golf before, so that should make it fun. We’re looking forward to it and I know the guys will enjoy it. I know it’s a great golf course and it should be in perfect shape. It doesn’t play nearly as long as it (the yardage) suggests.
“We were in the same regional with Oklahoma State last year and played with them three straight rounds. That should inspire our guys. I wish we were paired with them again, but it looks like we’ll be paired with Arizona State and UT Chattanooga.”
Clemson has an outstanding history in NCAA Regional play. This is the 23rd year of NCAA regional play and Clemson has won the regional championship seven times. Penley is the only Division I coach with seven regional championships. Clemson has qualified for the NCAA National tournament through the regional 19 times in the last 22 years, including last year when the Tigers finished second at the regional held near Atlanta, and 16th at the National Tournament held at the Honors Course in Chattanooga.
This year’s NCAA National Tournament will be played May 31 through June 5 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, OK. That was the site of Clemson’s 2003 NCAA Championship.
Clemson has won seven NCAA regional championships, second in the nation to Oklahoma State’s eight. Arizona State and Arizona also have seven.
For the second straight year, Clemson will start an all South Carolina lineup at the NCAA Tournament. It is also the first time since 1992 that Clemson’s NCAA lineup will not have at least one senior. The Tigers will bring two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman to the NCAA regional. Three of the players were in the lineup for the NCAA Tournament last year.
Clemson has a balanced lineup in terms of stroke average. All five players are separated by just 0.91 strokes per round, including just 0.18 strokes per round among the first three players. Corbin Mills (1,976), Jacob Burger (1,979) and Crawford Reeves (1,981) are separated by just five total strokes over the same amount of rounds (27) for the year.
Mills has a 73.19 stroke average for the year and has a team best four top 10 finishes, also best on the team. He is coming off consecutive top 10 finishes, a 10th place at Augusta State and a sixth place at the ACC Tournament. He has a 73.12 stroke average for his career, best among active Tigers. Twelve times this year Mills, a native of Anderson, SC, has had the best round of the day.
Mills shot a 218 at the Capital City Crabapple Course in Alpharetta, GA at the NCAA South Regional last year. He had a score of 70 in the first and third rounds to help the Tigers to the second-place finish.
Jacob Burger, a native of Orangeburg, SC has been the most consistent player on the team. He has a 73.30 stroke average for the year and has a streak of 12 consecutive rounds with scores 74 or better. His score has counted towards Clemson’s team score in 26 of 27 rounds. The junior has six top-25 finishes for the year and has scored between 214 and 218 in five straight tournaments.
Burger was Clemson’s third-best player at the NCAA South Regional last year when he shot a 213 and finished 17th, including a second-round 68 that tied for the best round by a Tiger that day.
Crawford Reeves enters the NCAA Tournament playing his best golf of the year. The sophomore from Greenville, SC has five consecutive top 16 finishes and has averaged 71.4 strokes per round over those tournaments, best on the team. He finished fifth at the USCA Cleveland Classic and sixth at the Furman Invitational.
Reeves had one of his best tournaments as a Tiger at the NCAA South Regional last year when he shot a 212 for 54 holes, good enough for 13th place in the field.
McCuen Elmore, a junior from Cheraw, SC, is the only Tiger to play in every tournament this year and has a 74.10 stroke average. He has nine rounds at par or better, including a 69 in the second round at the ACC Tournament on April 23. This will be Elmore’s first NCAA Tournament appearance. He finished 21st at the ACC Tournament last month.
Thomas Bradshaw is a freshman from Columbia, SC, who burst on the scene in the second semester and his addition to the lineup has paralleled Clemson’s improvement as a team. He was Clemson’s top golfer at the Furman Invitational with a third-place individual finish, an event Clemson won as a team. His final round 64 was a key to that victory and it tied the Clemson record for the lowest final round in school history.
For the year, Bradshaw has played in four tournaments and Clemson has finished in the top three as a team in three of the four. He has four rounds at par or better in his 12 rounds.