CLEMSON, S.C. — Head Coach Jordan Byrd will bring a veteran lineup to his first ACC Tournament this weekend when the Clemson Tigers defend their 2021 ACC Championship. Clemson and 11 other ACC institutions will begin play on Friday April 22 at the Shark’s Tooth Golf Course at the Watersound Club in Panama City, Fla.
The format includes two rounds of stroke play on Friday and one round on Saturday. The top four teams after stroke play will advance to match play with the semifinals played on Sunday and the championship match on Monday.
North Carolina is the number-one seed by virtue of its number-seven national ranking according to Golfweek and Golfstat, best in the ACC.
Clemson is the defending champion, as the Tigers finished second in stroke play, then defeated NC State in the semifinals and Florida State in the finals at the Capital City Crabapple Course in Atlanta last April. It was Clemson’s 10th ACC title under Hall of Fame Head Coach Larry Penley, who retired last year after 37 years at the helm of the program.
The field includes six teams ranked in the top 25 of both the Golfstat and Golfweek national rankings. Clemson is ranked 23rd in both computer polls entering the tournament. The Tigers have won the ACC men’s golf tournament 11 times in history. Six of the last seven years Clemson has finished fourth or better.
Four of the five starters from last year’s championship team will be in the lineup this weekend. The Tigers are led by senior All-American Jacob Bridgeman, who has a 70.71 stroke average this year and a 70.82 average for his career, second best in Clemson history. Bridgeman, who finished fifth at the ACC Tournament last year, is ranked sixth in the latest PGA University rankings, best among ACC players.
Bridgeman has come on strong this spring and enters the ACC tournament with a run of four consecutive top four finishes, the first Tiger to do that since Turk Pettit in 2018. Bridgeman won the Linger Longer Invitational on March 22 with a 16-under-par score of 200. He won the tournament by six shots, tied for the largest margin of victory in Clemson history. It was his fourth career victory, one off the school record.
Colby Patton is second on the Clemson team in stroke average this year at 72.29. He has a pair of top 10s, including co-medalist at the Wake Forest Invitational at Pinehurst #2. Patton will be playing in his fourth ACC Tournament. He helped the Tigers to the championship last year when he finished 14th in stroke play, then clinched the semifinal victory over NC State with a match play win in extra holes.
Senior Kyle Cottam also will be in his fourth ACC Tournament. He finished fourth in stroke play last year, then won both of his matches in the match play portion. He has a 73.33 stroke average this year with nine rounds at par or better. He has 10 career top 10 finishes and 59 rounds of par or better. He has two top 10s this year, fifth place at the Maui Jim and ninth at the Wake Forest Invitational.
Zack Gordon clinched Clemson’s ACC Championship last year when he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 21st hole against his Florida State opponent. Gordon has a 73.63 stroke average this year and two top 10 finishes, including co-medalist honors with Patton at the Wake Forest Invitational at Pinehurst #2.
Freshman Kian Rose more than rounds out the Clemson lineup. The native of South Africa has a 73.29 stroke average for his 24 rounds, third best on the team. Rose has been outstanding in final rounds of tournaments this year with a 71.50 average, second on the Clemson team. He has been Clemson’s third best player in each of the last two tournaments.
This will be the second trip to Shark’s Tooth for the Tigers and all the ACC teams for that matter. Back on Feb. 20-22, Clemson played in the Watersound Invitational and finished fifth out of 14 teams in the field. Bridgeman finished fourth with a four-under-par score of 212.
The first round Friday begins at 7:30 a.m. with continuous play throughout the day for the second round. The third round on Saturday begins at 9 a.m. Match play semifinals on Saturday and finals on Sunday begin at 9 a.m. Spectators are allowed at the ACC Men’s Golf Championship and it is not a ticketed event.
The semifinals and finals of the ACC Men’s Golf Championship match play will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Will Haskett (play-by-play) and Steve Scott (analyst) will provide the call. A championship recap show will air May 2 at 7 p.m. on ACCN.
For those interested in attending the tournament, the address for the course is 2003 Wild Heron Way, Panama City Beach, FL 32413. Live scoring will be available throughout the tournament at golfstat.com.