In a sort of an odd way Jacob Bridgeman has put bookends on the way the Clemson golf team has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tiger junior won the last tournament played before the ACC and the NCAA shut down college golf last March.
Bridgeman edged out a pair of teammates at the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate to record his first college victory.
Fast forward to the 2021 season opener this week. Bridgeman posted his second win, his second straight win, 10 months later, with his victory at the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational.
Bridgeman led from start to finish to earn the win over the field of ACC teams at the tournament played near Panama City, Florida.
Bridgeman birdied the second hole in his first round and went on to shoot an 8-under par 64 to take the lead and set a couple of team records.
“When I holed out on number 8 from 70 yards for an eagle it took me from 2 to 4 under,” he said. “It took me to where I thought I could shoot a low number,” said Bridgeman.
The Tiger golfer from Inman established a new record for the lowest season opening round for Clemson.
His bogey free round also set the competitive tournament record at the 7,150 yard course in Watersound, Florida.
Last year’s Honorable Mention All-American held a 3-shot lead over the field.
With his teammates support the Tigers would shoot the best team round of the tournament and hold a 6-shot lead over Wake Forest.
“The team played really well in the first round and the final round,” said Clemson coach Larry Penley. “Jacob just played great all week,” he added.
Colby Patton and Kyle Cottam each pitched in with rounds of 3-under par 69 to give Clemson an advantage.
In the second round Bridgeman ran his streak to 36 holes without a bogey. He birdied 3 of his first 4-holes and went on to shoot a 6-under par 66 to build his lead.
Bridgeman’s 36 hole total of 130 earned him a 6-shot lead over North Carolina’s Peter Fountain.
The team slipped in the second round. Clemson fell into a second place tie with Florida State as Wake Forest shot 8-under par to take the lead.
With a 6 shot lead Bridgeman was playing against himself and the course without a great deal of pressure from the field.
“I didn’t have any pressure, but I still played aggressively. The putts that went down in the first two rounds didn’t go. With the lead I had I was trying to make some birdies to help the team, but I didn’t have good stuff,” said Bridgeman.
UNC’s Fountain closed within 2-shots of Bridgeman on the front nine, but a pair of back-nine bogeys kept him from getting any closer.
Bridgeman made his first bogey in the 54 hole tournament on his 44th hole. He maintained a comfortable lead through the end of the round marking down a birdie on his final hole to finish all 3-rounds under par.
Bridgeman’s 15-under par 201 tied for the second best 54 hole score in the Clemson record book. His 5-shot winning margin also was the second best in school’s history.
The tournament format had each team playing with their teammates in three-somes so Penley got to see every shot Bridgeman made in the tournament.
“I know our guys would rather play with other teams, but I got to see every shot Jacob hit for 54 holes. It was a lot of fun to watch him win the golf tournament,” Penley said.
The Tigers’ as a team were able to move into the lead mid-way in the final round and looked to hold off Wake Forest and Florida State.
However, the 15th hole took the Tigers out of the lead. All five Clemson golfers bogeyed the hole as the team fell to third.
“It was a man-sized hole directly into the wind. We hit good shots, but in the wrong places. It actually would have been better to miss the green because of the hole location. It was just a tough hole,” said Penley.
Turk Petit turned in the best score for a Tiger golfer in the final round. His 5-under par 67 put the Clemson senior in a 6-way tie for ninth place with teammate Colby Patton.
Bridgeman finished 5 shots in front of UNC’s Fountain for a convincing win.
FSU won the team title on the second playoff hole over the Deacons.
With only ACC teams in the tournament field the event could be a preview of how the conference teams will stack up and how the ACC Tournament might look at the end of the season.
“Florida State is tough to beat down there and Wake has a couple of Walker Cuppers. They might be one of the two best teams in the country. We went toe to toe with them and that was encouraging, but we didn’t finish it,” said the Clemson coach.
Clemson now has almost a month off before playing in the College of Charleston Classic at Kiawah Island starting on February 14th.
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