The record setting season turned in by the Clemson golf team ended with a disappointing finish at the NCAA championships. The Tigers were never able to recover from a terrible first round and finished last in a field of 30 teams.
“This was a tough end to our season,” said Head Coach Larry Penley, who has taken the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament all 34 years he has been the head coach. “We played well enough to make the 15-team cut in the second round (three-under 285), but our performance in the other two rounds was not nearly good enough,” he said.
Clemson started the tournament with a 313 team score. When the Tigers shot a 2-under par 285 total they were still in last place, but the first round appeared to be an aberation.
However, in the final round the Tigers struggled again and posted a 303 total to lock in the 30th place in the tournament.
There were no bright spots in the final round. The team that had won a school record five tournaments in a row and six in the school year didn’t have a player under par.
ACC Freshman of the Year Doc Redman shot a final round 1-over par 73 to be the top Clemson player on the final day.
Redman and senior Carson Young ended the tournament at 7-over par. Young had the best round for the Tigers when he carded a 4-under par 68 in the second round.
The Tigers other senior Austin Langdale, who missed the ACC tournament with an injury, completed his college career along with Young.
The two golfers from nearby Pendleton had been teammates through high school and four years at Clemson.
This was Clemson’s third consecutive appearance in the NCAA National Tournament, the first time the program has done that since the 1983-2004 era. Young and Langdale were starters on each of the last three teams.
“I do want to thank our two seniors, Carson Young and Austin Langdale for everything they have done for our program the last four years. They grew up following this program and represented it in a first class manner every day.,” said the Clemson coach.
The Tigers will return three players from the NCAA team next year. Redman and Nimmer have both been named ACC Freshmen of the Year.
The third Clemson starter at the finals was William Nottingham. He had earned three straight top-ten finishes going into the NCAA Finals.
The other Clemson freshman had to play two of the three rounds without his regular driver. It broke 10 minutes before the start of the tournament.
What once was thought to be a strong point for the Tigers was to be the depth of this year’s team. Injuries and inconsistent play cut into the depth on the squad.
Rising senior Josh Fickes was in the starting lineup at the start of the season. Jonathan Rector played well in Hawaii, but then missed time with an injury. Peter Mathison subbed for Langdale in the ACC tournament and Coleman Self was red-shirted this year.
Penley recruited three promising freshmen. Turk Petit from Alabama, Kyle Cottam of Knoxville and Colby Patton from Hillcrest High in Simpsonville. Petit has won the Alabama Amateur and the Future Masters. Cottom was named to the All-State team in Tennessee after last season and Patton was the runner-up in the AAAAA state championship.
While the end of the season was very disappointing Penley believes with the nucleous of another outstanding team next year
“It is going to be Redman, Nimmer and Nottingham’s team and that is not a bad place to start the new season,” concluded the Clemson coach.
With Clemson eliminated from the tournament local golf fans can cheer for two Upstate players still in the event.
Auburn’s Trace Crowe from Easley shot his second under par round to help the Tigers to ninth place. The top eight teams after tomorrows final round enter the match play tournament for the team championship.
Alabama did not make the top-15 teams to be able to continue, but Riverside grad Jonathan Hardee shot a 5-under par 67. He is tied for 17th place and will play his final round competing for the individual championship on Monday.