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Clemson men's golf team survives and advances

The Tigers will be in Scottsdale, Arizona where they will attempt to extend the final season for head coach Larry Penley.
Credit: WLTX

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Turk Pettit posted his second consecutive round of two-under-par 69, while Jacob Bridgeman and Kyle Cottam both fired one-under-par 70s in leading Clemson to a tie for fourth at the NCAA Kingston Regional at the Golf Club of Tennessee on Wednesday. The Tigers will join host school Vanderbilt, Arkansas, San Diego State and NC State as the five schools that will advance to the NCAA National Tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 28.

It marks the sixth straight time Clemson has qualified for the NCAA National Championship tournament. Clemson is one of seven schools to do it, and is joined on the list by Arizona State, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Vanderbilt.

Clemson entered the final round in a fifth-place tie with Charlotte. The Tigers, 49ers and NC State Wolfpack were grouped together and there were more lead changes over the course of the day than an ACC basketball game. Over the course of the day Clemson was anywhere from seventh place to a tie for third.

But, in the end Larry Penley’s veteran team tied for fourth to advance to the national tournament. It is the 30th time in his 37 opportunities over 38 years as Clemson coach that he has taken the Tigers to the national tournament.

“It was quite a day, it was nerve wracking, but I am proud of my team,” said Penley, who has announced this will be his last year as Clemson head coach. “Turk got off to that great start with birdies on his first three holes and it put me a little at ease. But there were a lot of lead changes, a lot of back and forth the entire day.

“We made three birdies on the 17th hole (Clemson’s eighth hole of the day) and that was big because NC State and Charlotte were both making birdies also. Then on the front side Cottam and Pettit both made birdie on the third hole, which had been the toughest hole on the course the first two rounds.

“The wind on the front side was different from the first two rounds. It was really a different golf course on that side and it took some time to get used to it.

“I was especially proud of Turk today. His start was huge. He then made a double on the eighth hole when he lost his tee shot to the right in the trees. I know that bothered him because he had a chance to win the golf tournament (individually) and I know that was something he wanted to do. But, he played the 18th hole perfectly to clinch our spot in Arizona.”