Clemson Opens Golf Season

Clemson's top-ranked and defending NCAA Championship golf team travels to Johnson City, TN this weekend to begin its fall season in the Ridges Invitational. This trip marks the fifth time the Tigers have competed in the Ridges. Clemson played in the event each year from 1998-2001.

The Tigers claimed the championship trophy at the Ridges Invitational in 1998, the first year Clemson played in the event. Clemson won by a five-stroke margin over Georgia Tech, thanks to the play of current professionals Jonathan Byrd and Lucas Glover. The duo finished 1-2 in the medallist race to lead the Tigers to victory. Clemson finished third, sixth, and ninth in its other Ridges appearances.

Clemson is led by a trio of preseason All-Americans. Matt Hendrix, a senior from Aiken, SC, is ranked No. 3 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and is a preseason first-team All-American, but will not play in this weekend's event. Hendrix played in the Walker Cup last weekend and did not return from England until late Monday night. Gregg Jones is a preseason second-team All-American according to Golfweek. The Florence, SC native was an All-ACC selection last year and won the 2003 Jones Cup and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the U.S. Amateur this summer. Jones earned All-America honors as a sophomore in 2001-02. Jack Ferguson rounds out the Tigers' trio of preseason All-Americans. A second-team selection a year ago, Ferguson emerged to finish second only to D.J. Trahan in individual stroke average. He had three finishes in second place a year ago. Head Coach Larry Penley will fill the final three starting spots with Brent Delahoussaye, Brian Duncan, and Stephen Poole. Delahoussaye is a transfer from South Carolina who sat out last season. He played in 19 tournaments in his two years with the Gamecocks and had a career stroke average of 73.84. He won the 2003 Monroe Invitational this summer.

Brian Duncan is a red-shirt sophomore who will take part in his second career stroke event for Clemson. He shot five-over-par in the Schenkel Invitational last spring, and also played in the Match Play event last fall. His older brother Ben was a starter on last year's National Championship team.

Stephen Poole will replace Hendrix in the starting lineup for this weekend's tournament. Poole, a red-shirt sophomore from Spartanburg, SC will be competing in his first collegiate event for the Tigers. He was a five-time letterman and four-time All-Region selection at Spartanburg High School.

Clemson will be looking to continue its streak of top three finishes. The Tigers have finished in the top three at each competition for 17 straight events, dating to the 2001-02 season. The last time Clemson failed to finish in the top three was at the Schenkel Invitational in March of 2002, when the Tigers finished in sixth place. Top Stories