Note: The following appears in the Boston College gameday football program. To purchase a copy of the program while supplies last, send a check for $7 to Clemson Athletic Communications; P.O. Box 31; Clemson, SC 29633 with your return address.
There were some comparisons between Clemson’s 2016 football national title win over Alabama and Doc Redman’s 2017 U.S. Amateur victory over Doug Ghim.
First of all, both athletic events were a grind. Clemson’s football win took over four hours to complete. Redman’s win over the Texas senior took 37 holes, and Redman played 144 holes on the week.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers trailed by 10 points entering the fourth quarter. Redman trailed by two holes with two to play in the match-play format, meaning he had to win each of the last two holes to force a playoff.
Both national titles were won in dramatic fashion. We could say Redman is the Hunter Renfrow of Clemson golf.
That might be a more fitting analogy than you might think, because Renfrow, a golf enthusiast, called Redman on the eve of his championship match.
“I was following his progress and wanted to let him know we were behind him back at Clemson,” said Renfrow. “That is an incredible feat, and we’re very proud of him.”
Renfrow was not the only one to call Redman that night.
“I talked to him for about 20 minutes,” said head football coach Dabo Swinney. “I told him to take one match at a time, one hole at a time. I compared it to the approach I gave our football team all last year.”
Redman’s run to join Chris Patton (1989) as Clemson’s only U.S. Amateur champions completed a record-setting freshman year that must be considered among the best in school history.
In the fall, he won two tournaments to become the first Clemson freshman to win two events in a year. In one of the victories, the Ka’anapali Classic in Maui, he finished with a 54-hole score of 198, the best total in school history.
Clemson won a school-record five straight tournaments at midseason and tied the school record with six team wins for the year. Redman was the team leader in stroke average along the way at 70.8, the second-lowest average in school history and best by a freshman.
At season’s end, Redman was named a first-team freshman All-American by every service and was a third-team All-American by Golf Coaches Association.
“Doc had a tremendous freshman year,” said head coach Larry Penley, who is in his 35th season as head coach. “He won the two tournaments in the fall, and that gave him great confidence.”
That outstanding play continued into the summer. In early August, he reached the finals of the Western Amateur near Chicago, Ill. That grueling event prepared him for the U.S. Amateur run.
“I definitely think the Western Amateur helped me in the U.S. Amateur,” explained Redman. “The Western Amateur is a marathon, and it is against one of the strongest fields in amateur golf.”
Redman’s U.S. Amateur was a marathon as well. It began with two rounds of stroke-play qualifying. The top-64 players after the 36-hole qualifier advanced to match play. However, he was tied for 57th after the 36 holes and had to compete against 13 players for eight spots. He made it out of the playoff to become the No. 62 seed entering match play.
Redman was paired with Logan Lowe, a golfer from George Washington and the No. 3 seed, in the first round. Redman won that match easily (4&3). But the remaining matches were all pressure packed, as he won three on the last hole before going 37 holes in the final.
The championship match is a 36-hole final. Having to win the last two holes to force a playoff, Redman rolled in a 60-foot eagle putt to claim the 17th hole and extend the match. He then made a birdie putt on the 18th hole to force “overtime.” It was the third consecutive match that he won the 18th hole at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles.
Obviously shaken by Redman’s heroics, Ghim hooked his drive into the trees on the first playoff hole. Ghim hit two more shots into greenside bunkers, and Redman had his title.
“This was a gutsy performance and about not giving up,” said Redman. “Doug played great. It shows that hard work pays off. This is a championship for everyone who has helped me.”
“I could not be more proud of Doc,” added Penley. “Doc is a mathematician, which means he never gets ahead of himself. He follows a process, and that really helped him, especially when he got behind. He stayed the course.”
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