It took a couple of extra holes, but Clemson’s Jacob Bridgeman is the new ACC champion.
The Tiger senior from Inman, SC birdied the second playoff hole to break a tie with North Carolina’s Peter Fountain for the individual championship.
Bridgeman and Fountain were tied going into the final round, but both golfers were playing on opposite sides of the course with their teams.
Bridgeman started on the back nine and birdied his first hole to take the lead.
He added an eagle 3 on the par-5 13th hole (his fourth hole of the day) to add to his lead.
Fountain was playing the front nine and birdied two holes and when Bridgeman bogeyed his ninth hole (18 on the course) the two were effectively back to even, even if the leader board didn’t read that way.
Both golfers birdied their par 5s on their final nine. Bridgeman’s two birdies kept him in the lead until Fountain got to his second par 5, the 17th hole.
The Tarheel golfer birdied the hole and with one hole to go had a chance to break the tie and win the championship.
While Bridgeman, who finished on his side of the course well in front of Fountain, waited, the UNC golfer settled for a par on his final hole and a tie for the lead and a sudden-death playoff.
In the playoff, Bridgeman had a chance to end it on the first extra hole, but a 6-foot birdie putt missed the hole.
On the second playoff hole, Fountain pushed his second shot to the back of the green while Bridgeman hit a near perfect approach shot to within 7 feet of the pin.
Fountain missed his long birdie try, but this time Bridgeman drained the birdie putt for the ACC Championship.
“It was a little bit longer than the first one, but I knew I had it,” said the new ACC Champion.
Clemson coach Jordan Byrd knows he has seen Bridgman play a stretch of golf that is just about equal to some of the records set by PGA Tour golfer D.J. Trahan.
“Jacob has been brilliant all spring and this week was no different,” said Byrd. ” He has a complete game and he used all of it this week to win,” said Byrd.
Bridgeman is the seventh Tiger to win the conference championship and the first to win the individual title outright since John Engler won the championship in 2001. The last Clemson golfer to win an ACC championship was David May who shared the title in 2009.
“We have a lot of history at our school, to make some more is special to me. To see I’ve made my mark in Clemson history is awesome,” said Bridgeman.
With the win Bridgeman set or tied a number of program records.
He now shares the record for most tournament victories at five with 1989 US Amateur champion Chris Patton and the PGA Tour’s D.J. Trahan.
Bridgeman’s impressive finish to the regular season included a win in the PGA Tour Canada qualifying tournament. A college win at the Linger Longer Invitational and top-4 finishes in three other spring tournaments.
“I have been playing great. I started at the Canadian Q School qualifier, every thing clicked down there. We have been playing a lot of golf so I haven’t had time to change anything. My putter got me through this tournament. I didn’t hit it my best. My ball striking has been great the last few weeks so it was great to have that (putter) come back out,” said Bridgeman.
His run of sub 70 scores continued in the tournament and now stands at 49 for the year, a new Clemson record.
The Chapman High School grad posted rounds of 69-66-68 for a 203 total. Bridgeman made only three bogeys in the tournament, one in each round.
“He has a complete game that can win in any condition or environment. It is a treat for me to watch him compete!” said his coach.
The Clemson senior may make some of the decision makers involved with post season awards wonder why they left him off the Ben Hogan spring watch list.
While the Hogan and Haskins Awards are always significant, Bridgeman’s win may be even more important to his immediate future after completing play in the NCAA Championship next month.
Bridgeman is currently ranked fourth in the PGA Tour University poll. The top five golfers in the poll receive full season exemptions to the Korn-Ferry Tour and can begin play as soon as the college season ends.
If he can stay in the top-5 Bridgeman could begin his professional career either in Raleigh or in the Upstate at the BMW. Both events take place right after the completion of the NCAA Championship in Arizona.
The Clemson team missed the chance to repeat as conference champions finishing the stroke play portion of the tournament in a tie for 9th place.
North Carolina again finished on top of the stroke play standings and will have the top seed in the Match Play championship.
The Tarheels will face Wake Forest in the first round with Georgia Tech and Florida State meeting in the other semi-final match on Sunday.
In the latest college golf rankings the Tigers are ranked 23 in the GolfStat poll and will receive a bid to an NCAA Regional.
The announcement of Regional assignments will be made on May 4th.
ACC Championship scores https://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=player&tid=24894