Clemson’s perennially strong men’s golf team began the fall season out of the national spotlight, but that changed quickly. Four tournaments later, the Tigers have climbed to 11th in one national poll and 12th in another, and coach Larry Penley sees plenty of possibilities for improvement.
“We’re more consistent now,” Penley said. “Miller Capps, Stephen Behr, Carson Young and Austin Langdale have played some great golf and all have had top-10 finishes. But we’ve had a constant struggle to find the fifth (productive) player. We’ve got him; we just have to find him.”
The most obvious candidate is senior Cody Proveaux, a stalwart for three years who has been plagued with inconsistency. He had 14 birdies, second most in the field, in three rounds in last weekend’s U.S. Collegiate – and finished 79th.
“We think and hope he will come out of his slump,” Penley said. “His ‘good’ is ‘great,’ but for whatever reason, he can’t put rounds together. He just has to play through it, and I’m confident he will. He had some excellent summer tournaments before the slump started at the State Amateur (in August).
“He can be our best player. He has great experience and the others really rally around him. They’re more confident, and we’re a better team when he plays well.”
The Tigers played what Penley called three excellent tournaments and one really bad one in the fall, and they head into their winter break brimming with confidence after a third-place finish in the U.S. Collegiate. The field included seven of the nation’s top 10 teams, and Clemson posted the tournament’s best round, 8-under par, on the final day.
“That’s a great way to finish the fall season,” he said. “We didn’t need a bad week, and we got a very good one. We beat a lot of very good teams and it’s a shot in the arm for us while we take some time off.”
The Tigers feature a wealth of experience. Behr, the leading scorer at 71.3, is a graduate student. Capps (72.4) and Proveaux (75.5) are seniors, and Langdale (72.08) and Young (73.3) are juniors. Freshman Peter Mathison has played in two tournaments and freshmen Coleman Self and Bryson Nimmer in one each. Behr and Langdale tied for second in the Carpet Classic, Young finished fifth in the Nike Invitational and Capps placed eighth in the U.S. Collegiate.
“We’re pleased with where we are, but we know we have room for improvement,” Penley said. “We’re going to take a look at what we’ve done well in the fall and see we need to do to get better. There’s work to do, but it’s nice to finish the fall on a good note.”
The Tigers begin their spring schedule in the Puerto Rico Classic in February and their tournaments include the Clemson Invitational, set for April at the Cliffs at Keowee Falls.
The Par Tee Golf Center is offering specials on grips and balls to help fund the center’s PGA Junior League team’s participation in the national finals in Orlando, Fla. “One hundred percent of the sales go directly to the trip,” Par Tee owner Tom Mason said. Three styles of Golf Pride grips, including installation, are offered at half price, and OnCore balls are on sale for $25 a dozen with each purchase including a free hat and large bucket of range balls. ... Joe Hackler (Myrtle Beach) edged John Laehn (Aiken) by one shot to win the SCGA’s Super Senior tournament at Florence CC. Three-time champion Bob Stringer (Blythewood) finished third. ... Jeff Abbot will become executive director of the Carolinas PGA Section in January. Abbot, currently head of the Tennessee PGA Section, will replace Ron Schmid, the long-time head of the 2,000-member Carolinas Section, who is retiring. ... The annual Tiger Golf Gathering is scheduled Dec. 3-4 at Thornblade Club (Greer) and the Cliffs at Mountain Park (Travelers Rest). The fundraiser benefits Clemson’s golf teams, the school’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management and the South Carolina Junior Golf Association. Information is available at www.tigergolfgathering.com.