Clemson, S.C.—Clemson junior Zack Gordon will hit the first shot of the NCAA Kingston Regional at the Golf Club of Tennessee near Nashville Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. eastern time. The Tigers are in the first group off the first tee as the top seed in the regional and will play with #2 NC State and #3 Vanderbilt on Monday.
Thirteen teams will play 54 holes on the par 71 course in Kingston, Tenn. over May 17-19, with the top five teams advancing to the NCAA National Tournament at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In addition to Clemson, NC State, and Vanderbilt, the field includes #4 Arkansas, #5 San Diego State, #6 Virginia, #7 Charlotte, #8 Kent State, #9 USTA, #10 Houston, #11 Loyola, #12 UCONN and #13, Iona.
Clemson has a 9-0 record this year against the other teams in the Kingston Regional. This will be Clemson’s second appearance in an NCAA Regional at this course. In 2005, Clemson finished 11th out of 27 teams and missed qualifying for the national tournament by two shots, ending a 21-year streak of Clemson making the national event.
Clemson team is ranked in the top four in the nation by each of the three services that rank college golf teams. The Tigers are third according to Golfweek and Golfstat, and fourth by the College Golf Coaches Association ranking. The Tigers have won four tournaments this year, including four of the last five. Clemson is coming off a championship performance at the ACC Tournament in Atlanta, Ga.
In addition to Gordon’s 8:30 a.m. (eastern) tee time, Colby Patton will start at 8:41 a.m., Kyle Cottam at 8:52 a.m., Turk Pettit at 9:03 a.m., and Jacob Bridgeman at 9:14 a.m.
Bridgeman leads the nation in stroke average at 69.24. The native of Inman, SC has six top 10 finishes in seven events this year, including two medalist honors. He is coming off a fifth-place at the ACC Tournament, plus two match-play victories. He has a team-best 13 rounds in the 60s among his 16 under-par rounds.
Bridgeman is ranked third in the nation in the latest Golfweek ratings and seventh by Golfstat and is one of 10 candidates for the Haskins Award. He was named to the United States Palmer Cup team last week.
Bridgeman is joined in the top 20 by teammate Turk Pettit, who is 11th by Golfstat and 17th by Golfweek. Pettit has finished in the top 10 in five of his six tournaments, including 10th place at the recent ACC Tournament. He has nine under-par rounds, including six in the 60s. He has shot under-par in 48 of his 91 career rounds so far.
Patton is Clemson’s third-best player in terms of stroke average (71.19) and is ranked 75th by Golfstat and 90th by Golfweek. He finished 14th at the ACC Tournament in stroke play, then defeated Carter Graf of NC State in 20 holes to clinch the semifinal match play victory at the ACC Tournament. Patton has a 72.6 career stroke average, just above the 72.7 recorded by his father, Chris Patton, who was an All-American at Clemson between 1986-90.
While Cottam is fourth on the Clemson team in stroke average, he was the Tigers’ best player at the ACC Tournament. The senior finished fourth in the stroke-play portion of the event with a 205 total, then had a 2-0 record in match play, the only Tiger with a perfect record, recording wins over NC State and Florida State.
Gordon rounds out the Clemson lineup with a 72.44 stroke average. He had improving scores of 76-74-71 at the ACC Tournament then clinched the overall championship when he defeated Greyson Porter of Florida State in 21 holes in match play.
Head coach Larry Penley, who is retiring at the end of this season, has guided the Clemson program to the NCAA tournament every year he has been the head coach. This is his 38th year at the helm. The only year Clemson did not play in the NCAA Tournament was last year when the event was canceled due to the COVID19 pandemic.
Penley has won seven NCAA Regional Championships, more than any other coach, and has taken Clemson to the national tournament 29 times. Clemson has reached the regional of the NCAA Tournament every year since the format began in 1989.