By Staff Report.
Clemson, SC—Corbin Mills and Crawford Reeves both fired three-under-par rounds of 69 and led a strong comeback for the Clemson Tigers at the NCAA Central Regional at the Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, Colorado. Clemson is in a tie for third place with Georgia after two rounds with a six under par score of 570.
Saturday is the final round and the top five teams will advance to the NCAA Championships at Oklahoma State May 31 to June 5. While Clemson is in third place, the Tigers are just one shot off the cutline. Teams third through seventh place are separated by just two shots.
Number-one Oklahoma State has the team lead at 25 under par. Auburn is second at nine under, followed by Clemson and Georgia at six under par. TCU is fifth at five under, while Arizona State and Colorado State are tied for sixth at four under.
Clemson got off to a slow start on Friday and was four over on the front nine as a team and five over for the tournament. Clemson was in 11th place at that point. But the Tigers made two eagles, eight birdies and just one bogey on the back nine to shoot 11 under par for the back nine. The flurry of birdies improved Clemson from 11th place to third place by the end of the day.
“We got off to a rough start, but part of it was due to the wind,” said Clemson Head Coach Larry Penley, who has taken the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament all 28 years he has been the leader of the Tigers. “We weren’t playing that poorly, we were just playing long holes that were playing into the wind. We had the wind in our favor on the back nine and we were able to make a run.”
Reeves is Clemson’s top player after two rounds with a three under par score of 141, good enough for 13th place in the individual race. Reeves had just one bogey and four birdies in recording his team best seventh round in the 60s this year.
“I followed Crawford all day and he was as solid as you can play,” said Penley. “He made one bogey and that was a three putt. He struck the ball very well and finished strong with birdies on the 15th and 18th holes.”
Mills was one over on the front, then got hot on holes 12 through 14 when he went eagle, birdie, birdie to get to three under par. That flurry brought Clemson from 11th place to sixth place in a matter of half an hour.
He reached the par five 12th hole with a driver and a two-iron, then made a 15 foot putt for his fifth eagle of the year. Mills is in 19th place in the individual race at 142, just one stroke in back of Reeves.
The reliable Jacob Burger had his second straight even par round. His 72 included three birdies and three bogeys. He did bogey the 17th hole, or he would have shot under par for the day. He made birdies on the 10th and 12th holes to contribute to Clemson’s surge on the back nine.
McCuen Elmore was a big part of Clemson’s improvement on Friday with a one-under-par 71. The junior had a double bogey on the par-four fourth hole and made the turn at two over. But Elmore shot three-under-par on the back nine, including and eagle two on the par four 17th hole.
“The 17th hole was playing about 290 yards if you cut the corner, and he drove the ball on to the green. There was not much margin for error on that drive because there is some deep rough around the green. But, he hit a perfect drive and made the putt for an eagle.” It was the first eagle of the year for Elmore, who leads the team in birdies for the year. It was a six-stroke improvement for Elmore, who had an opening round 77.
Freshman Thomas Bradshaw was Clemson’s non-counter on Friday with a five over par 77, but he did play his last nine holes in one under par.