April 8, 2017
Salem, S.C. – Junior James Clark shot a 3-under-par 69 to grab a share of the lead, and the 21st-ranked Yellow Jackets fired a 5-under-par 283 Saturday to hold onto second place after 36 holes at the Clemson Invitational, which is being contested at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls.
TECH LINEUP – On a nearly clear day with much calmer breezes, 17 players were able to break par Saturday, as opposed to only two Friday. Three Tech players played the course under par, Clark with a 69 and freshmen Andy Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci with 71s. Senior Vincent Whaley provided the Yellow Jackets’ fourth counting score with an even-par 72, while freshman Luke Schniederjans came in at 74. All five Jackets birdied the par 5 18th.
Clark (Columbus, Ga.) was even through 15 holes, but took advantage of the closing par 5s at 16 and 18, making eagle at 15 and birdie at 18, and moved into a tie for first place at 3-under-par 141. Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), who went 3-under over the final 11 holes, is in a tie for seventh at even-par 144. Whaley (McKinney, Texas) is in a tie for 19th at 148 (+4).
Senior Michael Hines (Acworth, Ga.), competing as an individual, shot 72 and is alone in 18th place.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Eighteenth-ranked Clemson played the final three holes 6-under-par with no bogeys and opened a five-stroke lead on the Yellow Jackets. Led by a pair of 69s from Carson Young and Bryson Nimmer, the Tigers shot the day’s best round at 280 (-8) and completed 36 holes in 2-under-par 574. Tech has a two-round total of 579 (+3). Alabama, paired with Tech and Clemson Saturday, posted a 4-under-par round of 284 and have a 36-hole total of 582 (+6). All three teams are paired together again for the final round Sunday beginning at 10:10 a.m.
SMU (591, +15) holds down fourth place, followed by the College of Charleston (592, +16) in the 13-team field.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – First-round leader William Rainey of the College of Charleston followed his opening 69 with a 72 Saturday and retained a share of the lead with Clark at 141 (-3). Clemson’s Carson Young moved into second place at 2-under-par 142.
The Tigers’ Austin Langdale (71 Saturday), SMU’s Andrew Buchanan (68) and Alabama’s Jonathan Hardee (69) are tied for fourth at 143 (-1), while Ogletree is in a six-player tie at even-par 144.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “All the wind yesterday and the breeze today with the sunshine dried out the course pretty good, so in some ways it was just as difficult. The speed of the greens was more severe and they were firmer, so it was still a good test. Par was still a really good round today. At times we do some really good stuff, and sometime we do some stupid stuff. There’s a lot of skill set in our group, but we wasted too many shots (today). Against really good golf teams, like this situation with Clemson on a course it plays a lot, you can’t make so many unforced errors.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Clemson Invitational is a 54-hole event that runs through Sunday with 18 holes each day. It is played at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls, a 7,103-yard, par 72 layout in Salem, S.C.
The Yellow Jackets finished second to the host team, Clemson, by 11 shots in the inaugural tournament last spring. Whaley captured the second tournament title of his career with an 8-under-par score of 208, winning by two over Robin Sciot-Siegrist of Louisville. Junior James Clark tied for seventh place.
At No. 18 Clemson is the highest ranked team in the field, having won five events this season. Also in the field are Alabama (No. 38), Boston College, College of Charleston, Elon, Furman, Louisville, Michigan State (No. 34), Navy, SMU, UNC-Wilmington, and Winthrop. Alabama won the NCAA Championship in 2013 and 2014, while SMU has been a perennial top 25 team in recent years, including a top five finish in 2014. Georgia Tech won the 2015 ACC Championship after battling the Tigers to a tie after regulation play. Clemson then won the title last year.