Clemson, S.C.—Kyle Cottam, Turk Pettit, Colby Patton, and Jacob Bridgeman all broke par on Monday and all finished in the top 10 for the 54-hole tournament to lead Larry Penley’s Clemson golf team to the championship of the John Hayt Invitational on Monday at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra, Fla. It was the 81st victory of Penley’s 38-year career as Clemson head coach, just one short of the ACC record held by former Wake Forest coach Jesse Haddock.
Clemson trailed host school North Florida by one shot entering the final round, but shot a 12-under-par team round of 276, to finish with a team score of 845, 11 shots better than the Ospreys 856 score. Number-one ranked Florida State finished third at 863 and 15th ranked Liberty was fourth at 868. Clemson finished 30 shots ahead of third-ranked Wake Forest, who had a 3-0 record against the Tigers in prior tournaments.
“This was a great performance against a good field,” said Penley. The field included five top 25 teams, including four of the top 15 and two of the top three. Ten of the top 50 and 18 of the top 100 players in the nation according to Golfstat were among the 87 competitors.
“The key today was holes 8-12. We really played well on those five holes.” Clemson was seven-under-par for those holes and picked up five shots on North Florida. At one point late in the round Clemson had an 18-shot lead.
“The wind was from the opposite direction today. The holes that were easier the previous two rounds were tougher today and vice versa. But, our guys didn’t let it bother them. They adjusted to everything that was thrown at them.
“I love this course, but you have to play well to beat it. We did that today. To win a tournament by 10 shots against this field everyone needs to be in the game and we did that. I am so proud of our team.” Four different Tigers had at least 13 birdies and Clemson led the field with 61 total for the tournament, eight more than any other team. Clemson also had the low net team score on par four holes by nine shots.
Clemson had four players finish in the top 10 for the first time since the April 7-9, 2017 Clemson Invitational. Cottam led the way with a 208 score for the 54 holes, including a season-best 67 in the final round, to finish in second place. It was the first time this year he was the top Tiger at a tournament. The senior from Knoxville, Tenn. had a bogey-free 68 in the first round, his first bogey-free round of the season. He finished two shots behind Nick Gabrelcik of North Florida, the number-four ranked player in the nation.
Pettit finished in a tie for third with John Pak of Florida State, the nation’s number-one ranked player. Pettit had three consecutive under-par rounds (70-68-71) in finishing at 209. The senior, who was ranked 20th in the nation entering the tournament, now has eight-under-par rounds this year and four top 10 finishes.
Colby Patton continued his outstanding play with a 212 score, four-under-par. Patton finished with a 69 on Monday after rounds of 68-75 on Sunday. Patton has now shot under-par in seven of his last eight rounds. He finished sixth today, his best finish of the year.
Jacob Bridgeman, ranked eighth in the nation by Golfstat, got off to a tough start at the John Hayt with rounds of 74 and 73 on Sunday, but finished strong with a 69 on Monday. He had an even-par score of 216 to finish in a tie for 10th, his fourth top 10 of the year.
William Nottingham had a solid day with a one-over-par 73 and finished his 54 holes with a 224 score, good enough for 44th place. Zack Gordon finished at 225 while playing as an individual to finish in 50th place.
Clemson will play its sixth and final regular-season tournament April 5-7 at the Shoal Creek Invitational. The tournament will be played at Birmingham Country Club due to damage to the Shoal Creek Course during a recent tornado. The ACC Tournament will be held April 23-26 at Capital City Crabapple Course in Atlanta.
The John Hayt Invitational
Sawgrass Country Club
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Mar 28-29, 2021
Par 72, Yards: 6,966