CLEMSON, S.C. – For the first time since May 27, 1983, someone other than Larry Penley will lead the Clemson men’s golf tournament into a college golf tournament. Jordan Byrd begins his career as Penley’s successor this weekend when the Tigers open the 2021-22 season at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The 15-team, 54-hole tournament that features five top 25 teams and 10 teams from Power Five conferences will be held September 10-12 at the Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale.
The tournament has a national field with two teams from the SEC (Alabama and Auburn), three from the ACC (Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville) and five from the Pac 12 (Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington and Utah). Other teams in the field are Augusta, Colorado State, Kennesaw State, New Mexico and Georgia State.
Clemson is the highest rated team in the field with a No. 11 ranking by the Golf Coaches Association and a No. 12 by Golf Channel. Other ranked teams include Georgia Tech (13,17), Washington (22), Arizona (22) and Auburn (20).
Penley was Clemson’s head coach for each of the last 38 years and guided the program to the NCAA Tournament all 37 years the tournament was held over his career. He ranks second in ACC history in NCAA Tournament appearances for any coach in any sport. He led the program to 10 ACC Championships among his 83 career wins that established a league record for a golf coach. He guided Clemson to the 2003 National Championship.
Byrd has been Penley’s top assistant each of the last 16 years and was involved in all aspects of the program. He has recruited most of the players that have taken Clemson to four consecutive top 15 NCAA Tournament finishes or national rankings, and six straight NCAA National Tournament appearances.
The brother of former Clemson All-American and longtime PGA Tour player Jonathan Byrd, Jordan will take a veteran team to Arizona for the season opener. The five-man lineup includes four seniors, including two “super seniors”, and a junior.
The Tigers finished tied for 13th at the NCAA National Tournament a year ago when the lineup included the now graduated Turk Pettit, who became the second Clemson golfer to win the NCAA National Tournament. The Tigers are 11th in the preseason Golf Coaches Association of America poll and 12th according to the Golf Channel rating.
The four seniors have combined for 116 tournaments and 353 rounds, had 29 Top 10 individual finishes, 88 rounds in the 60s, 131 under-par rounds and 169 rounds at par or better. They have taken 25,465 shots for a collective average of 72.14.
Jacob Bridgeman is the most decorated of the Clemson seniors, as he was named the ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year for men’s golf, was a second-team All-American and one of 11 semifinalists for the 2021 Fred Haskins Award. He posted a 70.11 stroke average for the year, third best in Clemson history, and had six top 10 finishes, including a pair of wins. His 70.85 career stroke average is second only to Doc Redman’s 70.70.
This past summer the native of Inman, S.C. posted a 3-1 record for the United States Palmer Cup team and reached the final 16 of the U.S. Amateur after finishing seventh in the stroke play qualifier. He ranked 14th in the final Golfweek national rankings for last year and is 10th in the PGA University preseason rankings for 2021-22.
Kyle Cottam and Colby Patton are two other seniors on the roster who have received considerable honors. Cottam was third on the team in stroke average last year behind Pettit (69.84) and Bridgeman with a 71.64 figure. The “super senior” was a first-team All-District selection by the Golf Coaches Association and ranked 105th in the final Golfweek rankings.
Patton, the son of former Clemson All-American and US Amateur Champion Chris Patton, was a first-team All-ACC selection last year. He had a 71.82 stroke average a year ago and earned three top 10 finishes. He was third on the team in under-par rounds with 12, including eight in the 60s. Patton shot 13-under-par for the four rounds of qualifying for this tournament, best on the team.
Zack Gordon was in the Clemson lineup for four of the nine tournaments in spring of 2021, but two of them were the ACC Championship and the NCAA regional. He will forever be remembered for making a 20-foot birdie putt on the 21st hole of his match against Greyson Porter of Florida State, a putt that gave Clemson the ACC Championship in Larry Penley’s last year as head coach. He had a terrific summer, that included reaching the semifinals of the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst #2.
Clemson played just seven players over the course of the COVID19 shortened 2020-21 season (the ACC did not allow teams to play in the fall). Junior Carter Pendley played as an individual at the Kiawah Invitational and did well with an even-par score of 216 for his 54 holes. He will be the number-five player in the Clemson lineup in Arizona.
Kian Rose, a native of South Africa, will play this first tournament as an individual. Rose had five top 10 finishes in world junior events over the last two years.
Live scoring will be available each day on golfstat.com. Rounds one and two will begin at 8 a.m. Pacific on Friday and Saturday and 7:00 a.m. on Sunday.
For Clemson fans in Arizona wishing to attend the tournament, the address for the Mirabel Club is 37100 North Mirabel Club Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85262.