The final day of the stroke play portion of the NCAA Championship began and ended with a playoff involving a team and a player from the Upstate.
Georgia freshman Trent Phillips from Boiling Springs won a spot in the final stroke play round with a playoff win over Will Miles of South Carolina and UNLV’s Justin Kim.
The day ended with the Clemson Tigers and the SMU Mustangs locked in a team playoff for the final spot in the match play championship.
The Tigers started the final round in the eighth spot and if they could have held the position through the round, Clemson would have made their first appearance in the match play championship.
Instead the day turned into a roller-coaster ride that left the Tigers outside the final eight after a playoff loss to SMU.
Clemson bounced between the eighth spot and the tenth spot during the final stroke play round. It seemed as if every time the Tigers gained some breathing room for the final match play position a stray shot or missed putt set them back.
The Tigers were seven shots out of the last qualifying spot for match play during the final round. They also had a three shot lead over the other contenders for the same spot at different times during the day.
ACC Player of the Year Bryson Nimmer struggled to a 5-over par 77. Nimmer’s school record setting season was the main reason the Tigers were still playing in the NCAA tournament, but a missed short putt on his final hole left Nimmer with a double bogey and the Tigers tied with SMU.
Kyle Cottam finished the tournament tied for 11th after shooting a final round 2-over par 74.
Jacob Bridgeman had trouble on his first nine holes, but closed with a flurry to keep Clemson in contention. The Clemson freshman birdied three of his last four holes, including sinking a crucial 25 foot birdie putt on his final hole to keep the Tigers tied with SMU.
In the playoff the total score of all five players was used to determine the winner. Clemson finished with 23 strokes while SMU totaled 21.
While the missed chance to make the match play final was disappointing the Tigers tie for eighth place was the best finish for Clemson in the championship since 2008.
Oklahoma State finished 31 shots in front of second place Vanderbilt. Wake Forest, Texas, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas A&M along with SMU advanced to match play.
Phillips, the SEC Freshman of the Year, needed two holes to win his spot in the final round of stroke play.
Phillips birdied the first playoff hole and won the playoff with a tap-in par on the second hole.
The three-time SC Junior Player of the Year then shot a final round 4-under par 68 to allow him to jump over 21 other players and claim an eighth place finish.
Phillips’ 68 was bettered by only three golfers in the 72 hole championship.
The individual stroke play championship was won by Oklahoma State’s Matthew Wolfe. The OSU golfer shot a 10-under par 278 to top Georgia Southern ‘s Steven Fisk by five shots.