Clemson’s completed its men’s fall season last weekend with another middle-of-the-pack finish, and Larry Penley called his team’s performances in six events “average at best.”
But, the hall-of-fame coach predicted, the spring will be a different story.
Junior Cody Proveaux and senior Billy Kennerly provided stability in the fall, posting top-20 finishes in four of the six tournaments and compiling sub-par scoring averages. Otherwise, Penley saw lots of inconsistency.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, but, at the same time, we have a lot of positive possibilities,” said Penley, who has guided the Tigers into the NCAA tournament in each of his 30 seasons at Clemson.
“We hope to get Austin Langdale back in the spring. We saw in his three tournaments that Josh Fickes is going to be a great player and we know (sophomore) Carson Young is better than he played this fall.”
Langdale, second in scoring average as a freshman last year, missed the fall with a shoulder injury. Fickes, a freshman from Beaufort, showed promise with a tie for third in a weather-shortened tournament in his second start.
“The highlights of the fall have been Proveaux and Kennerly,” Penley said. “Cody has played really well. He’s been more determined, more focused this year. He’s getting ‘it’. Kennerly has been a real positive. He played in only one tournament last year, but he’s been very good for us this fall. He’s averaging under par.”
Perhaps Kennerly’s strong start to his final season could have been predicted. He enjoyed a strong summer on the amateur circuit, earning a pair of top-three finishes and placing in the top 25 in four tournaments. He showed the form that earned him top-10s in the ACC and the NCAA regional at the end of the 2013 season.
Juniors Stephen Behr and Miller Capps, starting for their third seasons, have scoring averages in the 72 range, but the fifth position has been in a state of flux. Without Langdale, Penley has rounded out the lineup with Young, Fickes and junior Blake Kennedy.
“We have a lot to work on, but we have a lot to work with,” Penley said. “We need to get Carson comfortable. He’s been successful at a high level before (an outstanding junior career plus wins in the Carolinas Amateur and the S.C. Amateur). Josh needs some experience. We just need more consistency and, hopefully, we get Austin back. I think we have a great opportunity to have a very good team this spring.”
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