Clemson men’s golf team looks for consistent spring

Clemson honored its 2003 men’s golf team on the 10th anniversary of its national championship at the Tigers’ Thursday night football game, and coach Larry Penley hopes his current golf squad can learn from the past.

“We need one guy to step up, and everything changes,” the hall-of-fame Clemson coach said. “D.J. (Trahan) led the 2003 team and everyone fed off him. We’ve got the talent now; these guys have won all their lives. We just need to take that next step.”

The fall season featured three sophomores and two freshmen earning the bulk of the playing time, and the four tournaments produced inconsistent results: good in one event, less than satisfactory in the next.

“We’ll be better in the spring,” Penley said. “We did pretty well (fourth) at the Farm (Carpet Classic in Dalton, Ga.) and in Tennessee (third in the Dick’s Challenge Cup). On the other hand, we didn’t play very well in Illinois (13th in the Fighting Illini Invitational) and we played very poorly (15th in the U.S. Collegiate) in Alpharetta.

“Maybe that last tournament will be a wake-up call. We should learn from it.”

After a lingering bout with the flu curtailed junior Billy Kennerly’s fall, the Tigers relied on sophomores Miller Capps, Stephen Behr and Cody Proveaux and freshmen Austin Langdale and Carson Young. Penley looks to the spring and sees those six along with senior Thomas Bradshaw and sophomore Blake Kennedy in the mix.

“We’ve got a lot of improving to do, and I think we’ll see that,” Penley said. “The freshmen have to learn about combining academics and study halls and golf, and they’ll figure it out. (Former Clemson star) Chris Patton said years ago that college golf would be easy if you didn’t have to go to school and school would be easy if you didn’t have to play golf.”

The winter, Penley said, will be spent with the hopes of “rekindling their love for the game.” He noted the rigorous summer schedule most of his team played before stepping into the fall team competition.

“We can work with each one only eight hours a week (NCAA off-season rule) and only two of those hours can be on golf instruction,” he said. “So, they’re working on strength and conditioning and flexibility. Everything academically is very positive.”

Chip shots

Members of Clemson’s 2003 national title team honored included Trahan, Jack Ferguson, Gregg Jones, Ben Duncan, Brian Duncan, Nicky Biershenk, Martin Catalioto, Stephen Poole, Brent Delahoussaye and Michael Sims. Matt Hendrix, a starter, is competing the Tour qualifying tourney and could not attend. ...

The SCGA’s amateur team edged the state’s PGA pro team 29.5-24.5 in the 32nd annual Palmetto Cup matches at the CC of Lexington. ...

The SCGA’s 2014 schedule is mostly complete with dates and sites available at