Clemson, S.C.—Clemson will open its men’s golf season on Sunday, Jan. 17 at the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational at Camp Creek Golf Club in Watersound, Fla. The tournament host will be Florida State and the 10 teams competing are all from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
This will be the latest opening to a Clemson season since the 1983-84 academic year, the last year the program did not compete in the fall. The fall schedule this year was suspended by the Atlantic Coast Conference due to COVID19. However, it is the earliest beginning to the spring portion of the schedule on record, and the first time Clemson has played a tournament in the month of January since 2010.
Sunday begins the final year of Larry Penley’s 38-year Hall of Fame career as Clemson head coach. Earlier this week he announced this would be his last year as Clemson head coach. He has taken Clemson to 25 top 20 seasons in his career, more than any other coach in any sport in Clemson history. His 79 tournament wins rank second in ACC history. He has led the program to nine ACC Championships, seven NCAA Regional titles and the 2003 National Championship.
Teams competing in the tournament include Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Since no ACC team competed in the fall, there are no national rankings for any ACC team entering this tournament.
Each school will bring six players to the tournament. One player will be designated as an individual and the top four scores among the five designated as playing for the team will count each day. The pairings will be played in threesomes with each team playing together in two threesomes to avoid contact with players from other schools.
Clemson will feature a veteran team in 2021 and that will be reflected in the lineup that will open the season. Clemson will bring four seniors and a junior to the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational. The starting lineup has played a combined 130 tournaments and 395 rounds. Four of the five are ranked in the top 25 in Clemson history in career stroke average and three have been named All-American at some point in their careers.
Jacob Bridgeman, a junior from Inman, SC, is the top returning Tiger from last year off his 70.14 stroke average. He had 10 rounds in the 60s out of 21 rounds played and had a team-best 13 under-par rounds when he was named an honorable mention All-American. His 71.21 career stroke average is third in school history.
Turk Pettit returns for his senior year with a 71.45 career stroke average, fourth-best in Clemson history. He is second in school history in percentage of rounds at par or better, a .630 figure thanks to 46 rounds at par-or-better in his 73 career rounds. Pettit had a 70.62 stroke average last year for his 21 rounds and had nine rounds in the 60s.
William Nottingham is taking advantage of the NCAA rule that did not charge any player with a year of eligibility last year because of the pandemic. This will be his fifth year of competition and he is a veteran of 38 tournaments and 114 rounds. He had a career-best 71.24 stroke average last year when he played 21 rounds.
Kyle Cottam is another senior who is a veteran of 27 tournaments entering this year. His 72.58 career stroke average is 14th best in school history. An honorable mention All-American in 2019 when he led the Tigers to a tie for eighth at the NCAA national tournament, Cottam had a 71.76 stroke average last year.
Colby Patton rounds out the Clemson lineup. The native of Fountain Inn, SC had a 71.67 stroke average a year ago when he had six-under-par rounds. His 73.11 stroke average for his career is 23rd in Clemson history.
Junior Zack Gordon will be the Clemson player competing as an individual. He had a 71.83 stroke average last year for his six tournaments.
Last year Clemson ranked 14th in the final Golfweek/Sagarin poll and 20th in the final Coaches Association Poll. Clemson has reached the NCAA National Tournament each of the last five years there has been a tournament. NCAA Golf was shut down in March last year due to COVID19 and no NCAA Tournament was held.