This is the 22nd straight year Clemson has advanced to the NCAA National tournament, the second longest active streak in the nation. Only Oklahoma State's streak of 58 consecutive years is longer. It is the 20th straight year Larry Penley has taken the Tigers to the NCAA national event, the second longest streak in the nation behind Mike Holder's (Oklahoma State) 30-year streak.
The tournament will be played at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, OK, a par 72 course that is 7290 yards in length. This will be the second time Clemson has played the course this year. In the fall (October 7-8) Clemson finished second at the Ping Preview behind Augusta State.
Clemson will bring the same lineup to Oklahoma that it had in the fall. Jack Ferguson was Clemson's top player in the fall at Karsten Creek, as the sophomore had a 220 total for the three rounds, good enough for eighth-place overall. Matt Hendrix was two shots back at 222 and finished 13th. D.J. Trahan was 19th after scoring a 224 figure, while Gregg Jones was 32nd at 228. Ben Duncan had a 229 and finished 38th, but his score counted towards Clemson's team score each day.
Clemson has been the most consistent team in the nation this year, finishing first or second in 11 of its 12 stroke-play events. In fact, a third-place finish at the Las Vegas Intercollegiate in March is Clemson's worst finish of the year. Clemson has finished in the top three in 16 straight stoke-play tournaments, including last year's third-place finish at the NCAA national tournament at Ohio State. The streak is a school record for consecutive top three finishes.
Clemson's 2002-03 season has included five tournament victories, tying a school record for wins in a season. Clemson won the Topy Cup in Japan, the Carpet Classic in Dalton, GA, and the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate in Birmingham, AL in the fall. This spring Clemson has won the ACC Tournament at The Old North State Club in Uwharrie Point, NC, and the NCAA East regional in Auburn, AL. This marks the second time in school history that Clemson has won the ACC Tournament and the NCAA East Regional in the same year. No school has ever made a clean sweep of its conference, NCAA regional and NCAA national tournaments in the same year. UCLA also has that opportunity this year.
Clemson heads to Oklahoma State with a 154-8-3 record against all competition this year, including a 95-8-3 mark against the other 29 teams in the NCAA national field. That is a 91 percent winning mark against the field, best in the nation. The same record applies for Clemson's record against top 25 teams this year. Oklahoma State, with a 58-25-1 record and a .696 winning percent against top 25 teams is second to Clemson's 91 percent. Clemson is 4-2 head to head with Oklahoma State this year and is 17-6 against the Cowboys over the last four years.
D.J. Trahan (Inman, SC) leads the Tigers to the NCAA National event with a 70.63 stroke average. This will be the fourth national tournament for the Tiger senior and his career average of 70.50 for his previous 12 national tournament rounds is the best in Clemson history. He already has three top 15 finishes in NCAA national play, the only player in Clemson history with three top 15s. He has been Clemson's top player at the national tournament each of the last three years.
Now ranked second in the nation according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Trahan enters the event with 20 school records on his resume, including most rounds at par or better (97), a mark he established at the NCAA East Regional. He can tie Kevin Johnson's school record for career top 10 finishes with a 27th career top 10 at the NCAA national tournament. He is Clemson's career stroke average leader on a season and career basis.
Jack Ferguson (Seneca, SC) has the second best stroke average this season with a 71.06 mark. That average is just second best on this team, but would be fourth best in school history if the season ended today. Currently ranked sixth in the nation, the sophomore making his first NCAA national appearance has had four top five finishes in his last five events, including a second place at the Schenkel and a second-place at the Atlanta Intercollegiate. He has been under-par in six straight tournaments and is 32-under-par for his last 18 rounds. Earlier this spring he broke a Clemson record for consecutive rounds at par or better with a streak of 15.
Another All-America candidate on this year's Clemson team is Matt Hendrix (Aiken, SC), a junior with a 71.29 stroke average. That is third best on this year's team, but would be eighth best in school history if the season ended today. Hendrix has six top 10 finishes this year, including four fourth-place finishes. He has had consecutive fourth place finishes with 209 totals in his last two tournaments and enters the national event with a streak of seven straight rounds at par or better.
Trahan, Ferguson and Hendrix are a combined 100-under-par for the academic year.
While Trahan is first in Clemson history in career stroke average in NCAA national tournament play, Gregg Jones is the career leader in all NCAA Tournament rounds (including regional play, minimum of two tournaments). Jones (Florence, SC), improved his career average to 71.05 with his 208 aggregate at the NCAA East Regional. He was the runnerup at the event after rounds of 69-72-67. His 67 was his best of the season by two shots and his 208 was his best 54-hole total by four strokes.
Ben Duncan will be making his 12th start of the year for the Tigers. The senior has a career 73.97 stroke average, 18th best in school history. The native of Greenville, SC faced the toughest schedule in the nation according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. He started the year with consecutive top 10 finishes at the Topy Cup and the Carpet Classic. He had a top 15 finish at the ACC Tournament, helping the Tigers to the team championship.
Clemson Lineup for NCAA National Tournament
2002-03 NCAA Name Cl Hometown Trns Avg Avg D.J. Trahan Sr. Inman, SC 12 70.63 71.71 Jack Ferguson So. Seneca, SC 12 71.06 70.67 Matt Hendrix Jr. Aiken, SC 12 71.29 72.90 Gregg Jones Jr. Florence, SC 12 72.46 71.05 Ben Duncan Sr. Greenville SC 11 74.13 74.50