Tigers triumph in Big Thursday golf

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Clemson snaps 5-match skid

By Robert Howey

The streak has been stopped, at least for a year.
A team of Clemson golfers halted the University of South Carolina and University of South Carolina Lancaster’s run in the 14th annual Big Thursday golf tournament at the Lancaster Golf Club on Nov. 19.
The Tigers prevailed with an 8-5 win over the team of Gamecocks and Lancers players.
A year ago in a close win, the Lancers and Gamecocks notched an 8.5-7-5 win over the Tigers golfers.
“Clemson got the better of USCL and USC on the links,” said tournament director Larry Honeycutt. “They played excellent team golf under less than ideal playing conditions. They were on their game today.”
The Lancaster course was soaked with 3.5 inches of rain Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
“It was very, very wet,” Honeycutt said. “In the past, we’ve dealt with the cold, but rain played a big role in this tournament today.
“We altered the format some and tried to make it fun,” he said. “As the day wore on, it got better. I want to thank club pro Phil Small and his staff for working with us and helping us get this tournament in. It took work and cooperation.”
The Tigers’ win, which snapped a five-year run by the Lancers-Gamecocks, put the overall links series at 11-3, with USC and USCL on top.
“It really was a struggle out there and there was no roll on the ball,” Honeycutt said.
Tim Beckham, a Clemson team golfer, boosted his Tiger team with four straight birdies.
Richard Patterson, who coordinates the Big Thursday Scholarship Fund, teamed with Karl Greene for a win over the USC-USCL duo of Wayne Looper and Larry Glenn.
“Last year, we were one down and beat them on the final hole for a tie,” Patterson said. “This year, we were one down with three holes to go and ‘old man’ Patterson birdied the last three holes (10, 11 and 12) to win.”
Benji Riggins, who teamed with Ryan Bunkley for a CU win, savored the moment.
“It is always good to win,” said Riggins, who noted Bunkley had one of the four close-ups on the day.
Other close-up winners included Larry Westcott, Buddy Casey and Ross Baker.
“If we win, we win,” Honeycutt said. “If we lose, we lose and that’s OK because the real winners in this are the county students who attend Clemson and USC Lancaster.”
Honeycutt estimated between $1,800 and $1,900 was raised through the golf tournament to be donated to the scholarship fund. The golf tournament is part of the annual Big Thursday Scholarship dinner fundraiser at the Bradley Building at USC Lancaster.
The Big Thursday theme comes from the early days of the Clemson-Carolina football rivalry when the teams played on Thursday in Columbia during State Fair Week from 1896 to 1959. The two state rivals will battle again on the gridiron Nov. 28 when USC hosts No. 1 Clemson for the 113th time. The Tigers, with a 35-17 win in Death Valley last season, hold a 66-42-4 lead in the series.
Last winter, the Big Thursday Inc. of Lancaster Scholarship Committee posted a record effort, awarding $27,500 each for USCL and CU. Since the Big Thursday Scholarship’s inception, a total of $440,600 has been raised, with $220,300 going to each school (USCL and Clemson).
“It’s amazing, truly amazing,” Patterson said. “What we’ve done to support our county students at USC Lancaster and Clemson is wonderful. It shows what the people of Lancaster County feel about our youth, the future of our county.”