Atlanta, Ga.—Kyle Cottam and Jacob Bridgeman both had rounds of two-under-par 68 on Sunday morning to lead fourth-ranked Clemson to a second-place team finish in the stroke play qualifier of the ACC Men’s Golf Tournament at The Capital City Crabapple Course in Atlanta, Ga.
North Carolina, ranked 17th in the nation entering the tournament, finished first with a score of 26-under-par 814, 15 shots ahead of the Tigers. NC State was third with an 831 score and Florida State was fourth at 845.
Those four teams will go into the match play semifinals that will begin at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Number-one seed North Carolina will face number-four seed Florida State and number-two seed Clemson will face number-three NC State in the semifinal pairings. The two winners will play for the ACC Championship on Monday.
Florida State, ranked second in the nation entering the tournament, got into the match play championship when Jon Pak, the number-one ranked player in the nation, made a par on the 18th hole. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech players made bogey to allow Florida State to qualify by a shot.
Clemson defeated the Pack by five shots in stroke play on Sunday morning and by two shots over the 54 holes, but match play is a totally different format. This is the first tournament in which Clemson and NC State have competed against each other this year.
This will be Clemson’s first match play competition since October of 2019 when the Tigers won the Jack Nicklaus Match Play in Dublin, Ohio. Clemson was also co-champion of the 2018 Nicklaus Match Play. Those are the only two match play tournament victories in Clemson golf history. The Tigers are 19-11-1 overall in match play, all under current Clemson head coach Larry Penley, who is retiring at the end of this year after 38 years at the helm of the program.
Cottam, Bridgeman and Turk Pettit all had top 10 finishes in the stroke play tournament that determined the individual ACC Champion. Cottam finished fourth with a 205 score after rounds of 67-70-68, while Bridgeman finished fifth with a 206 score after rounds of 71-67-68. He led the Tigers in birdies with 14, while Cottam had 12. Pettit had rounds of 70-67-71 for a 208 total to finish 10th, his fifth top 10 this year.
Colby Patton gave Clemson a fourth top 15 finishers with a 210 total for 54 holes. He had rounds of 69-70-71 to finish tied for 14th. Zack Gordon had his best round of the tournament on Sunday with a one-over-par 71, including a two-under par on the back. He finished 43rd with a 221 total.
This marked the first time since 2016 and just the third time since Clemson’s National Championship season of 2003 that four Tigers finished in the top 14 of the ACC Tournament. Clemson also did it in 2015.
A key reason Clemson finished ahead of NC State was holes 9-12. The ninth hole was the most difficult on the course, as the par four 520-yard hole played into the wind. Clemson counted two bogeys, but Cottam made a 20-foot putt for par and Pettit made a 15-footer for par. NC State’s players played the hole at five-over-par. Clemson then played holes 10-12 at six-under to move five shots ahead of the Wolfpack.
“Those two par putts on nine were huge from a momentum standpoint,” said Head Coach Larry Penley. “We knew we could make some birdies on holes 10-12, and we did.”
Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Golf Championship
Stroke Play, April 23-25, 2021
Capital City Crabapple Course, Atlanta, Ga.
Par 70, 7319 Yards
1. North Carolina 814, 2. Clemson 829, 3. NC State 831, 4. Florida State 845, 5. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, 846, 7. Virginia 859, 8. Duke 863, 9. Louisville 865, 10. Virginia Tech 867, 11. Notre Dame 870, 12. Boston College 873.
4. Kyle Cottam 67-70-68/205; 5. Jacob Bridgeman 71-67-68/206; 10. Turk Pettit 70-67-71/208; 14. Chris Patton 69-70-71/ 210; 43. Zack Gordon 76-74-71/221.