Sept. 14, 2007
WAYZATA, Minn. - Lamar University men's golf, coming of its most successful season in school history, opens the 2007-08 season this weekend at the Gopher Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota at Spring Hill Golf Club (Par-72, 7,020-yards), which is a Tom Fazio design.
Lamar, who is ranked 16th, is the only team in the field ranked in the preseason Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches Top 25 poll. Host Minnesota finished last season ranked ninth in the poll and Michigan State was ranked 23rd. The field will play 36 holes Saturday with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start and 18 holes Sunday with tee times starting at 8 a.m. to complete the 54-hole event.
Last season, Lamar won its all-time best 21st Southland Conference championship. The Cardinals qualified for their seventh straight NCAA Central Regional appearances, where they placed fourth. Lamar advanced to its second straight NCAA Championship, posting an all-time best third place finish.
Lamar is experiencing some rebuilding with the loss of three of its five starters from last year. The returnees are highlighted by senior Casey Clendenon and junior Justin Harding. Also back and in the lineup this weekend is senior Russell Helson.
A native of Katy, Clendenon posted a 72.66 season scoring average last year over 44 rounds. He placed third at the Southland Conference championship and was named first-team all-SLC. He advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur last month.
Harding, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, posted a 72.75 season scoring average over 44 rounds. He won medalist honors three times last year, at the Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, Border Olympics and the UALR/First Tee Collegiate Classic. He tied for 31st at the NCAA Championship.
Helson, a native of Georgetown, played in just two events last season, posting a 75.75 scoring average. Making their Cardinal debuts will be sophomore Hugues Joannes and junior Leroux Ferriera. Joannes, a native of Brussels, Belgium, is a transfer from Abilene Christian. Ferriera, a South African native, is a transfer from Midland Junior College.
The Cardinals opened last season at the Gopher Invitational, where they placed fifth in the 12-team event. Clendenon tied for 11th place to pace the Cardinals individually with a 54-hole score of 225. Harding tied for 23rd at 228. Stanford won the team title last year and went on to win the National Championship. The Cardinal is not back to defend its Gopher Invitational title.