There was no question that Clemson’s victory in the ACC Championship was a total team effort. Each of the five Tiger golfers had at least one outstanding round to help the team win the ACC tournament by 11 shots.
“It takes all five guys to win a championship,” said Clemson head coach Larry Penley. “That is our biggest strength, our consistency one through five, we get great support from everybody and that is probably the reason we won,” said the coach.
In the first round, Stephen Behr, the 2016 Byron Nelson Award winner led the Tigers with a 5-under par round of 67. He was matched by freshman Bryson Nimmer who shot the same score.
Clemson had their third best total for a championship tournament round versus par with the total of 273.
In fact the Tigers played so well in the first round that an even par score of 72 posted by Carson Young wasn’t used.
Clemson held a four shot lead over the field and added to it the second day. Even though Clemson’s score was 11 shots higher than the first day, the Tigers doubled their lead.
In the second round Austin Langdale shot his second straight 3-under par 69. Senior Miller Capps had his second round counted by matching Langdale’s score.
“Whenever Miller Capps plays well we all seem to play well. He had two great rounds the first two days. Even though we didn’t score as well in the second round as a team we had some more great play,” said the coach.
Going into the final round Clemson held an 8 shot lead over Wake Forest with top seeded Florida State trailing the Tigers by 14 strokes.
After struggling in the first two rounds Carson Young found his game and shot a 4-under par 68. His final score meant every Tiger golfer recorded at least one round in the 60s during he event.
In the last round both Langdale and Nimmer were either tied or close to the lead. However, the two Tigers may have sacrificed a chance at medalist honors to make sure the team got the win.
“We knew what we had to do to win. We have worked so hard to win as a team I don’t think any of our guys were thinking about an individual win. We accomplished what we had to do,” said Penley.
Louisville’s Robin Sciot-Siegrest shot the best round of the tournament to win medalist honors for the second straight year. Sciot-Sigrest carded a 7-under par 65 for a tournament best 10-under par to finish a shot in front of Jacob McBride of North Carolina State and Jake Shuman of Duke.
Langdale put the cap on the victory when he sank a 10 foot birdie putt on the final hole. Several fist pumps showed that while the birdie didn’t matter for the overall outcome of the tournament, but it was important to Langdale.
“Last year I had the same putt in the playoff and missed,” said Langdale. “So there was a little revenge in making it. We all wanted this win, espeacilly after how close we got last year,” he said.
The Tigers lost out to Georgia Tech in a playoff for the 2015 title causing Penley to wonder if his team was ever going to get another title.
“When we lost in the playoff to Georgia Tech last year I was starting to wonder if we were ever going to win again. But we had three guys back from last year who experienced that and they had this tournament circled on their calendar. Last year’s experience motivated them, especially our seniors (Capps and Behr),” said the coach.
The victory was the 10th ACC Championship for the Tigers and the ninth for Penley as the head coach. The Tigers coach who is in his 33rd year heading up the program is the second winningest coach in conference history.
“We had confidence we could win this tournament, but especially after the first round when we shot 15 under 273. We knew we were going to have to play aggressively and we did the entire tournament.”
The Tigers will now put up their golf clubs for a week to take exams. The team will find out their regional placement on May 2nd. This will be the first time since the 2004 season that Clemson will get the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament from the ACC.
ACC Tournament Highlights and Interview