The South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers golf seasons ended at the NCAA finals. Both teams had hoped to not just make the finals, but advance to match play.
However, the Tigers bowed out after three rounds finishing dead last in the field. South Carolina was able to make the cut to play the fourth round, but came up short of making the top eight for match play.
“Making the cut to 15 after the way we started out the first two rounds was quite an accomplishment. We got some pretty bad breaks honestly. But still finishing 13th is a pretty good week considering how we started out.,” said USC head coach Bill McDonald.
The Tigers took consolation in the fact that Clemson brought a relatively young team to the finals and the lack of experience on the big stage showed.
“We saw this week that the lack of experience in this tournament hurt us. While we have been to regional tournaments each year, no one in this group had played in the national tournament and it showed,” said Clemson head coach Larry Penley. “This is a different type of competition,” he said.
While the end of any season short of a championship is disappointing both teams can point to several key accomplishments they made during the season.
The Gamecocks were led to a record season by the play of Will Starke and Matt NeSmith. The two golfers were named to the All-SEC team. NeSmith won the individual title at the conference tournament and the team was the runner-up.
The Gamecocks set a school record with five tournament wins in the year. The team earned a top seed in NCAA Regional play while maintaining a top-10 ranking in most polls.
“These guys have really worked their tails off,” McDonald said. “They’ve just been a pleasure to be around and work with.” added the coach.
After a good season the Tigers came within a shot or two of topping Georgia Tech in a playoff for the ACC Tournament title. Clemson won an event and gained valuable experience for some young players.
“We will have four starters back, plus Carson Young will be back after an injury plagued sophomore season and he was our best player at the NCAA Regional in 2014. So we will have five players back who have played in an NCAA Tournament. Our future is bright and this is a week we can build on,” summed up the Tigers coach.
Many of the Tigers and the Gamecocks will have a busy summer. The players on both teams expect to play in a number of top amateur invitationals and hopefully earn a spot in the US Open or US Amateur.
Several of the players will be considered strong contenders for the SCGA Amateur title which will be played at the Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course in August.