AUBURN, Ala. -- Gregg Jones shot a season best 67 and D.J. Trahan added a 68 to lead Clemson to victory at the NCAA East Regional at the University Course at Auburn, Ala. Clemson finished with a team score of 839 for the three rounds, nine shots better than runner-up Georgia Tech. The 25-under score was the best in Clemson history for an NCAA Regional tournament.
It was the sixth NCAA East Regional title for the Tigers, all under Head Coach Larry Penley. Clemson has more regional championships than any other Division I school. Clemson and Georgia Tech were co-champions last year. The Tigers also won the East Regional in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 2000. It was the second major championship for the Tigers this spring, as Clemson also won the ACC Tournament in April. Clemson now has five tournament titles for the academic year, tying the record of five set by the 1986-87 team.
Clemson now will advance to the NCAA Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., May 27-30. It will be Clemson's 22nd consecutive year in the national tournament, the second longest active streak in the nation behind Oklahoma State's streak of 58 consecutive appearances. Oklahoma State will be the host school for this year's championship.
In addition to Clemson and Georgia Tech, Florida (859), Tennessee (863), Duke (866), Wake Forest (868), Augusta State (873), South Carolina (873), Vanderbilt (875) and Auburn (877) also will advance from the East. North Carolina and NC State advanced from the Central Regional Tournament, giving the ACC six teams in the 30-team NCAA National Tournament field.
Jones finished tied for second at the East Regional, his best finish this year. He had rounds of 69-72-67 in shooting a season best 208 for the 54 holes. He was tied for second with William Ted Brown of Virginia Commonwealth, who was playing in the event as an individual. Troy Matteson of Georgia Tech won the individual title with a 201 score after a final round 66. Jones had a season high seven birdies and just two bogeys on the day. He birdied all four of the par-5 holes. His previous best score this year was a 69 and his previous best tournament was a 212.
Matt Hendrix shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and finished with a 209 score for the three days, good enough for fourth place. He had four birdies and four bogeys on Saturday after a 67 on Friday. It was the fourth time this year he finished in fourth place at a tournament.
Trahan entered the tournament ranked number-one in the nation in final round scoring average with a 69.2 figure. He did not hurt that figure as he fired a 68 in the final round of the regional. He had six birdies and two bogeys. He had birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes to get Clemson off to a fast start. He finished the event tied for seventh place with a 210 score. Ironically, that was his exact same total last year when he won the regional championship at Settindown Creek outside Atlanta.
Jack Ferguson had another under-par round with a 70. The sophomore had five birdies, but a double bogey on the eighth hole hurt his chances at scoring in the 60s for the 11th time this year. Still, he finished 16th with his 212 score, the sixth straight tournament he has finished under par.
Senior Ben Duncan improved his score by two shots for the second straight day and finished with a 73. He had a 225 total for the three rounds.
Penley was pleased with his team's performance, the 53rd victory of his Clemson head coaching career. 'The key to us winning this tournament was our performance in the second round. (The Tigers shot a 277 on Friday, eight shots better than any other team.). When we did that on Friday, it took the pressure off of making the cut. I don't care what anyone says, you are always thinking about making that cut.
'But were 20 shots clear of the cut entering today, so the guys played without pressure. We played well over the last two rounds, I am proud of them. We got off to a great start today. We were 11 under on the front nine at one point.'
Jones, a second-team All-American last year, gave credit to Penley for his performance over the three days. Penley walked the entire 54 holes with Jones, who had averaged 74.2 over his last six rounds entering the event. 'The coaches were not able to use carts at this event, so coach really couldn't move around a lot to see all the players. He stayed with me at Duke my freshman year and it helped. It certainly made a different this weekend. He settles me down when something goes wrong. It was my best performance of the spring.'