At the beginning of each season, the Clemson club golf team sits down and makes goals for their team. Usually this is a small list of steps to help them qualify for the National Championship. This season was different.
Coming off a National Championship run at Dancing Rabbit, Clemson received an automatic bid to Bryan Park to try to defend their title. Not having to worry about qualifying for club golf nationals left them with one goal: win it again.
Clemson was one of the favorites to win the #Battle4Bryan. As a team their one goal was to win, and based on their regional play everyone knew they had the capability to.
They began their campaign on the Players Course Saturday morning hoping to get out to an early lead. Matt Barth led the Tigers with an even par 72, and the next best score was Johnny Garstka’s 76. The Tigers also had a pair of 77’s and a 79 to give them a first day total of 381. They found themselves 12 shots back and in need of a big Sunday if they wanted to win.
Being past winners Clemson knows what pressure feels like. They knew that Sunday they would be on the Champions Course and scores would be a little higher. Rather than trying to force shots, they used their experience to attack the course.
“Having been to the National Championship before and experiencing the big stage definitely helped our team throughout the weekend,” said Clemson club president Chris Miller.
That experience and patience helped several of the Tigers post low scores. Barth shot another 72 to put him even for the whole tournament, tied for second overall. Connor Bosek responded from a first day 86 to fire a 75 on Sunday, and Chris Miller shot a 76 in his final round. Thanks to these three, Clemson was able to post a 382 on the Champions Course, which was better than both Florida and Baylor’s second day scores.
Unfortunately for Clemson, they came up short, finishing two off of Baylor and 5 back from first place Florida. Based on their preseason goals, the Clemson team felt disappointed and frustrated with their play.
“We all felt like we left a lot of shots out there,” said Miller. “It seemed we were way off, but to find out it was such a close margin, it was a tough loss to swallow.”
Putting was the common denominator for what went wrong with the Tigers. On the quiet car ride home, the few words spoken were about how many putts each player left on the courses. It was just one of those days where they were not making too many putts.
Even though Clemson did not get the results they were looking for, they enjoyed the atmosphere and seriousness of the National Championship.
“Not many players get to experience these high-level tournaments, so it’s cool to experience that,” said Miller.
Miller also stated how proud he was of his team. Despite tough conditions, he said they all came together and gave it their best, which he is extremely proud of.
Looking ahead to next year he knows it will be much different. They will need to refocus and reset their goals because they are not automatically qualified for the next National Championship. It’s going to take going regional-by-regional without looking ahead to solidify another bid. It won’t be an easy task, by Chris and is teammates are ready to begin their quest for the next National Championship.
**Jack Stephens is the NCCGA Director of Communications. Follow him on twitter @NCCGABlog.