It doesn’t matter how you get there, you just need to get there, could have been the theme for the Clemson Tigers at this weeks NCAA Regional at Kingston Springs.
The Tigers keep their season alive by finishing the Regional at the Golf Club of Tennessee in a tie with NC State for the last qualifying spot.
“It was quite a day, it was nerve wracking, but I am proud of my team,” said Clemson coach Larry Penley. “There were a lot of lead changes and a lot of back and forth the entire day,” he said.
Clemson entered the final day of the Regional knowing it had to break out of a tie with Charlotte and finish in 5th place or better.
Turk Pettit jump started the round for the Tigers with three straight birdies. The Clemson senior put some room between the Tigers and the other 5-teams within reach of the last two qualifying position.
The Tigers would move up to third on the leader board behind Vanderbilt and Arkansas. Second round leader San Diego State struggled and dropped down into a tie with Clemson for the third qualifying spot.
Pettit closed out his first nine holes at 4-under par and climbed the individual leader board to a tie for second place within a shot of the leader.
The Tigers would bounce around between the third qualifying spot and fifth place for most of the round.
Jacob Bridgeman birdied his 14th and 16th holes to keep pace with the Wolfpack and when Kyle Cottam added a birdie on his 16th hole the Tigers had a 2-shot lead over the closest teams.
Pettit had two holes left to wrap up the spot, but the Clemson senior carded a double bogey on his 17th hole to drop the Tigers into a tie with the Wolfpack. He bounced back from the bogey with a par to finish his round and keep the Tigers in a tie with NC State for fourth place.
The top five teams win the opportunity to play in the NCAA finals starting on May 28th in Scottsdale, Arizona
“I was especially proud of Turk today. His start was huge. He then made a double on the eighth hole (Clemson started the final round on the back nine) when he lost his tee shot to the right in the trees, I know that bothered him because he had a chance to win the golf tournament and I know that was something he wanted to do. But, he played the 18th hole perfectly to clinch our spot in Arizona,” offered Penley.
Clemson finished in a tie with NC State at 3-under par. Vanderbilt won the Regional with an 18 under par total on their home course. Arkansas and San Diego round out the teams that will next play at Grayhawk and compete for the national championship.
Clemson has now qualified for the NCAA National Championship tournament for six straight years putting the Tigers among the elite golf programs in the country. Joining Clemson on this impressive list are Arizona State, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Vanderbilt.
When Clemson begins play in the national championship next week it will mark the 30th time in his 38 years as Clemson’s head coach that Penley will lead a team into the national championship. The NCAA Finals will be his last event before the Hall of Fame coach retires.
Hall wins Region, but Gamecocks season ends
The season ended for all but one Gamecock at the Albuquerque Regional.
Ryan Hall, the USC Haskins Award candidate, shot a final round 3-under par 69 to advance to the NCAA finals as an individual.
Hall will have the opportunity to compete for medalist honors at the championship that begins in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 28th.
“Ryan has had a great year, obviously, and he’s put the team on his back,” said head coach South Carolina golf coach Bill McDonald. “Unfortunately today he couldn’t make enough birdies to save the team. It was really cool to be with him and walk the last nine holes with him while he battled it out to win another event. He knows how to close out a golf tournament,” he said.
Hall is just the third regional champion in program history joining former All-American and PGA TOUR player Kyle Thompson, who won regionals twice as a Gamecock in 1999 and 2001.
The win was the third of Hall’s career and his second this season. He was recently named First Team All-SEC and earned a spot on the U.S. Arnold Palmer Cup Team.
The Gamecocks started the day in good position to advance to the final as a team, but USC carded their worst round of the Regional with a 293 total and lost five spots on the leader board.
South Carolina finished 9th in the 14 team regional, 9-shots out of the last qualifying spot.
Albuquerque Regional Scores from GolfStat http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=player&tid=22942
Harper tied for 14th at Tallahassee Regional
Furman’s 3-time SoCon Player of the Year Keller Harper finished in a tie for 14th at the NCAA Regional in Tallahasse, Florida.
Harper faced some very long odds to have the opportunity to advance to the NCAA Finals. Only one golfer from a non-advancing team would get the chance to play for the national championship.
While Harper finished in a tie for 14th he actually was third among individual entrants.
Jacksonville University’s Michael Sakane finished as the individual runner-up at 13 under par to be the first golfer, not on an advancing team, in the standings .
The Georgia Bulldogs finished second in the Regional and will advance to the national championship. Bulldog golfer Trent Phillips from Boiling Springs shot a 4-under par 68 to tie for eighth place.
Tallahassee Regional Scores from GolfStat http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=22938