+ College Golf

Gordon delivers, Clemson wins ACC Championship

Clemson defeated FSU 3-2 in the ACC Match Play championship. The winning Clemson team included (l-r) Zach Gordon, Kyle Cottam, Jacob Bridgeman, Colby Patton, Turk Pettit, Head coach Larry Penley, Assistant coach Jordan Byrd. (Clemson photo)

Zach Gordon never played on a bigger stage than in the final round of the ACC Championship.

With TV cameras all around him and a rapidly expanding gallery, the Clemson junior from Gaffney hid his nerves and looked like he would over a 10 footer on his home course at Cherokee National.

Gordon was the last man standing between a FSU win or the championship for the Tigers.

Gordon rolled in a 12 footer for birdie on his 21st hole to top Grayson Porter and win the championship for Clemson.

“I finally got a putt I found I could make,” said Gordon. “I trusted the line and the speed and hoped for the best,” he said.

The lanky 6’5″ inch Tiger almost won the match for Clemson twice before the final hole.

On 18 he three putted and on the previous hole his birdie putt was dead in the hole, but some how managed to spin out forcing a third extra hole.

Gordon and Porter played their match just about dead even. Gordon held a 1-up lead for holes 9,10 and 11 before Porter brought the match back to even on the 12th hole.

For the next 9-holes neither golfer could gain an advantage.

As Gordon and Porter battled the other matches were decided.

Turk Pettit lost to Brett Roberts 6&5 to give FSU an early advantage.

Colby Patton fought back from 3-down to Frederik Kjettrup to get within one, but ran out of holes as FSU put an other point on the board.

Kyle Cottam had the best finish for the Tigers in stroke play and got Clemson’s first point in Match Play with a 2&1 win over FSU’s Vincent Norman. (GolfClub File Photo)
Jacob Bridgeman fought back from 2-down to beat John Pak, who entered the championship as the top ranked college golf. (GolfClub File Photo)

Kyle Cottam had his match with Vincent Norman under control and would give Clemson its first win with a 2 &1 victory.

Jacob Bridgeman was locked in a tight battle with the number 1 player in the country, FSU’s John Pak.

The Tiger junior from Inman was 2-down with 7 holes to play.

“I knew we had to flip my match to get it done,” said Bridgeman. “The fight we have is tremendous. We may not be the best team on paper, but we are the best team at heart,” he said.

The Clemson Haskins Award candidate cut Pak’s lead to 1-hole on 12, tied him with a win on 15 and won the match with a birdie on 18 to even the score at 2-2.

Only Gordon and Porter were left on the course as it seemed like everyone at the Capital City Club was running to see the last match.

On the 21st hole Gordon was away and first to putt. His 15 footer never left the hole and dropped in to cheers from the crowd. Porter’s putt was a little shorter, but the FSU golfer let it slide by the hole to end the match.

“I was nervous. I wish it would have ended on 18, but it was a great experience,” he said.

Gordon’s final putt gave retiring Clemson coach Larry Penley his 10th ACC Championship.

“I think when that putt went in (Gordon’s) that was the first time we were up all day,” said Penley. “We were battling and battling all day,” he said.

It also was his 83rd tournament win which breaks the mythical tie with Wake Forrest’s Jesse Haddock for all-time coaching victories.

“Chasing that 82 all year was fun, but what it boils down to you got to find self motivation and you got to get it done yourself. Our players continued to do that all year. I’m so very proud of all of them,” concluded Penley.

Entering the ACC championship the Tigers were the consensus 4th ranked team in the country and in the NCAA Tournament.

The victory should elevate the Tigers to the top-seed in whatever region they are assigned when the NCAA announces Regional selections early in May.

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