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May 27, 2021

Clemson Begins Play in NCAA National Tournament Friday

The 8th hole of The Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.

Clemson, S.C.—Clemson will begin play in the NCAA National Championship Tournament on Friday (May 28) at Grayhawk Golf Course in Scottsdale, Arizona as the number-four seed in the 30-team tournament.     

Larry Penley’s final Clemson team will have a veteran lineup, as all five players have experience in the NCAA National Tournament. The lineup includes four seniors and one junior, although two of the seniors have indicated they will return for next season by taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to all players due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

William Nottingham will strike the first shot for Clemson, as he will be the Tigers’ #5 player.  The Clemson graduate will be in the group that starts off the first hole at 11:52 a.m. local time, 2:52 p.m. eastern time.   Colby Patton will follow at 12:03 p.m., Kyle Cottam at 12:14 p.m., Jacob Bridgeman at 12:25 p.m., and Turk Pettit at 12:36 p.m. Clemson‘s team is grouped with Texas and North Carolina for the first two rounds.

Pairings have already been announced for Saturday’s second round. The Tigers will have the earliest possible wake-up call, as Nottingham will be first off the second tee beginning at 6:32 a.m. local time, 9:32 a.m. on the east coast.  Patton will start Saturday’s round at 6:43 a.m., Cottam at 6:54 a.m., Bridgeman at 7:05 a.m., and Pettit at 7:16 a.m.

Bridgeman has been Clemson’s leader in stroke average all year and in fact leads the nation with a 69.46 figure, on pace to be the best in Clemson history for a season. He is one of 11 finalists for the Fred Haskins Award, which goes to the national player of the year.  He will be a member of the United States Palmer Cup team in June.

Pettit was Clemson’s top player at the NCAA Regional and thus earned the number-one position in the order. He has a 70.14  stroke average for the year, which is tied for third-best in school history. The Clemson graduate has finished in the top 10 in six of his seven tournaments this year, including fourth-place at the Kingston Regional.

Kyle Cottam has moved up to the number-three position in the order and has a 71.33 stroke average this season. He was Clemson’s top player at the ACC Tournament with a fourth place finish in stroke play, then had a 2-0 record in match play, helping the Tigers to the conference championship.

Colby Patton is right behind Cottam with a 71.46 stroke average. Patton has three top 10 finishes this year and six for his career. He and Cottam are seniors who have indicated they will return for next season.  

William Nottingham is in the lineup for the first time since March 28-29. He missed the Birmingham Intercollegiate to go through qualifying for the McKenzie Tour. That week Zack Gordon finished third as his replacement and moved into the lineup for the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Regional.  

Nottingham has extensive NCAA Tournament experience and has played 129 career rounds and 43 tournaments as the only five-year starter in school history. He has a 73.00 stroke average this year.  He still holds the Clemson record for the lowest individual round with a 62 his freshman year at the Irish Creek Invitational in Raleigh.

This will be head coach Larry Penley’s final tournament, as he announced in January this would be his 38th and final season leading the Clemson program. Jordan Byrd, his assistant coach for the last 17 years, will take over the program at the conclusion of this tournament.

Penley has taken the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament every year of his career and this is the 30th time he has Clemson in the NCAA Championship Tournament. He guided Clemson to the National Championship in 2003 and had runner-up finishes in 1998 and 2001.

This is the sixth consecutive year Clemson has reached the NCAA National Tournament, one of just seven schools that have done that. Penley has led Clemson to 13 top 10 finishes in his career, just one off the Clemson sports record for a coach held by Dr. I.M. Ibrahim in men’s soccer. Penley has 83 career wins, more than any other ACC coach and his 25 top 25 finishes are a Clemson record for any coach.

The NCAA National Tournament will have four rounds of stroke play.  After the first three rounds, the field will be cut to the top 15 teams.  After the fourth round, an individual champion will be crowned and the top eight teams will advance to match play. The quarterfinals and semifinals of match play will be held on Tuesday, June 1 and the finals will be held on June 2.

Coverage on the Golf Channel begins on Monday, May 31.  Live scoring is available throughout the tournament at