Clemson returns to the golf course for the first time since October when the Tigers tee off Sunday in the Puerto Rico Classic at the Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico Feb. 17-19.
The Puerto Rico Classic features six top 20 teams in the 15-team field. The field includes fifth-ranked Alabama, Augusta State, 19th ranked Clemson, East Tennessee State, 11th-ranked Georgia, 10th-
ranked Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, 15th-ranked, Oklahoma State, Purdue, 17th-ranked SMU and Virginia Tech.
The Tigers are playing with two freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and a senior to the tournament. The list includes Crawford Reeves, Billy Kennerly and Thomas Bradshaw, returnees from the 2012 Clemson team that finished second with a 12-under par score of 852.
Bradshaw was Clemson’s top performer last year with a 212 score, good enough for sixth place individually. Kennerly had one of his best performances of his freshman year when he fired a three-under par 213 score and finished seventh. Reeves also had a top 25 finish with a 217 score.
The two freshmen who will make the trip to Puerto Rico are Stephen Behr and Cody Proveaux, who were Clemson’s top two players in terms of stroke average for the four tournaments in the fall. Behr had the top stroke average with a 71.78 for three events and is ranked 24th in the nation in the Sagarin computer rankings, while Proveaux had a 72.92 stroke average for four events and is ranked 68th.
Reeves had a 75.33 stroke average in the fall, while Kennerly was at 76.22. This will be Bradshaw’s first tournament of the academic year. He had a 73.33 stroke average last year and led the team in birdies with 111.
This is the 21st consecutive year Clemson has played in the Westin Rio Mar Classic. Clemson won the tournament in 1999 with an 830 team score. Clemson has finished in the runner-up spot seven times, including last year.
The Tigers have had the individual champion four times and it has been an indicator of future success on the PGA Tour. The four former Tigers to win the event are Jonathan Byrd (1997), John Engler (1999), Lucas Glover (2001) and Matt Hendrix (2004).