College Golf: Stamper Wins Rain-Shortened Nationals

Corey Stamper found out about the Clemson college golf club team at the beginning of the semester by simply looking it up online and sending an e-mail to President Johnny Garstka. The junior finished the season by firing a 5-under 67 to win the rain-shortened 2014 Fall National Championship at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club.

Stamper's journey to the championship was a unique one. A week prior he wasn't even supposed to be on the team, barely missing the 8-man roster by one spot. The roster was chosen by the club's officers, and factored in regional tournament performance. Stamper played both regional tournaments on Clemson's "A" team, but struggled in both, shooting +23 each tournament.

"I played really bad, honestly. It was pretty disappointing," Stamper said. "I played pretty decent in the qualifying round, something like 73-74. I'm not sure what happened (at the regionals), I just didn't have my best game there."

The Sunday before the tournament, Cedric Van Wassenhove called Garstka to let him know his course load wouldn't allow him to attend the tournament. Stamper received the news that he might be getting the call while playing golf with Garstka.

"Me and Johnny were actually playing together when he told me Cedric probably wouldn't be able to play," Stamper said. "I was playing well that day, and Johnny took notice of it."clemson_nationals

Heading into Nationals, Stamper was ranked 521 in the NCCGA, but knew he was capable of playing much better. This much was clear during the team's practice round Thursday on the Azaleas course.

"I didn't really keep scores for the practice round, but I was hitting really well and putting really well," he said. "I really liked that course. I just really felt comfortable around the greens."

His round Saturday on the Oaks course began with a par then bogey, punching out of a hazard on the second hole. It would be the only bogey of the entire round as Stamper recorded 6 birdies to hold the clubhouse lead at 5-under, 2 shots ahead of second place.

Clemson as a club also held the clubhouse lead at 10-over, 10 shots ahead of second place Florida. However, everyone knew the rain was looming on Sunday.

"We had talked about it (the weather), and knew there was a chance it might get rained out," Stamper said. "We said never count out we might have to play through some tough conditions, and stay mentally strong. I think we were prepared for it."

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The rain began prior to the 9 AM shotgun start and stayed strong the entire day, making the course unplayable after just one hole. Knowing many teams had flights leaving on Sunday afternoon, the decision was made to cancel the second round entirely and make it an 18-hole tournament, awarding Stamper the medalist trophy.

"Obviously I was extremely stoked that we were gonna win, but a little disappointed that we weren't going to play."

The win provides Stamper with an exemption into the 2015 Southeastern Amateur held this summer in Columbus, Georgia, an opportunity to compete against some of the top amateur golfers from across the country.

**Travis Richardson is a Zone Manager for the NCCGA, working with students to help start college golf club teams in California and the Southeastern United States. Contact Travis on Twitter @travis_richson