Clemson, S.C – Turk Pettit once again led the way, this time with a three-under-par 67, pacing Clemson to a four-over-par 284 team score and a tie for eighth place with ACC rival Wake Forest after 36 holes of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Tigers are nine shots ahead of the 15th place cutline that will be used after the third round. The top eight teams after the fourth round of stroke play will advance to match play on Tuesday. Clemson and Wake Forest are currently tied for eighth with 571 strokes. Oklahoma State has the team lead at 554.
Larry Penley’s team had an early tee time on Saturday (6:32 a.m. local start) and the Tigers were in 16th place when they walked off the course in mid-afternoon. But the field came back to Clemson as the day wore on, leading to the eighth place standing at the end of the day.
Pettit is in strong contention for the individual championship after 36 holes as his five-under-par 135 total is tied for second, just three-stroke behind leader Bo Jin of Oklahoma State (132). Pettit is tied with Ryggs Johnston of Arizona State.
Pettit has been outstanding on the difficult course where the 156 golfers in the field have an average score of 73.2 for the first two rounds. The Clemson graduate has eight birdies and just three bogeys for his first 36 holes. On Saturday he had just one bogey and four birdies in registering his 67, his second-best score in an NCAA Tournament round. It was his eighth straight round of 71 or better, his fifth round in the 60s during that stretch, including four in a row in NCAA Tournament play.
Jacob Bridgeman was Clemson’s second-best golfer for the second straight day after recording his second straight 71. He had a double bogey on the sixth hole, his 15th hole of the day, but finished with birdies on the eighth and ninth holes, thanks to made putts of 20 and 10 feet, respectively.
Kyle Cottam, Colby Patton, and William Nottingham all had rounds of three-over-par 73 on Saturday. Cottam and Patton both had four bogeys and a birdie in recording their 73s, while Nottingham was three-over-par after two holes, then played the last 16 at even par. He finished strong with a birdie on the ninth hole, his last hole of the day.
“We have to give Turk some help,” said Penley. “He has been absolutely phenomenal the first two rounds. He is one of the few players in this field who hits such a high iron shot he can hold these greens. He is playing very smart, hitting irons off the tee when necessary and picking and choosing when to hit his driver. You have to hit the ball in the fairway here.
“Jacob has played well, but just has not scored. I know he has a round in the 60s in him and hopefully, that will happen tomorrow. His birdie-birdie finish was huge today.”
“Kyle (Cottam) has gotten a lot of birdie opportunities, but just hasn’t converted as many as he normally does, and we need to get Colby more opportunities. William just needs to get off to a better start. I was proud of the way he hung in there today and played the last 16 holes at even par.
“I am glad we are in the top 15 entering Sunday. It is a big advantage to play in the morning. The way I look at it, we have 36 holes to prove we are one of the top eight teams in the nation. Obviously, we have to stay in the top 15 after the third round on Sunday, then get into the final eight after the fourth round. Anything can happen in match play.”