New London, N.C.—Georgia Tech made four birdies on the second playoff hole to defeat Clemson at the ACC Golf Championship on Sunday at The Old North State Club in New London, N.C. Clemson and Georgia Tech both finished 54 holes with a team score of 845, forcing a playoff between the two schools. It was the first time Clemson has been involved in a team playoff since the 2007 NCAA Regional in Alpharetta, Ga.
Clemson forced the playoff when senior Billy Kennerly made a six foot putt for a birdie on the 18th hole and final hole of regulation. The putt culminated an incredible comeback by the Tigers who, trailed by five shots with just two holes left. Kennerly, Miller Capps and Stephen Behr all made birdies on 18, and a Georgia Tech player made a double bogey on the 17th hole to allow Clemson to make up the five-shot difference in short order.
The ACC adopted a playoff for the team title 10 years ago but this was the first year a playoff was completed. Twice previously there were playoffs that went until darkness and co-championships were awarded. Clemson and N.C State were named co-champions in 1990, the only other time Clemson has been involved in a tie for the team title.
The playoff format involved all five players for each team. All five played the 18th hole and the top four scores are counted towards a team score. The first time the teams played the 18th hole, both teams scored 19 strokes. Cody Proveaux made a five-foot birdie putt to force the second playoff hole. But on the second playoff hole four Georgia Tech players made birdie compared to just one for the Tigers and Georgia Tech had its sixth ACC Tournament title in the last seven years.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team,” said Head Coach Larry Penley, who was looking for his ninth ACC title as head coach of the Tigers. “They never quit, even when the scoreboard showed us five shots out with just a couple of holes to play. To score three birdies on the last hole to force the playoff was quite an accomplishment.
“I can’t say enough about Billy Kennerly’s play this week and another top 10 finish in a strong field. We had great contributions for everyone this week.
“This was the first time this year we have played in the same tournament with Florida State, the nation’s number-one ranked team, and we beat them by a shot. That was a good accomplishment and we took Georgia Tech to the brink. We really had an opportunity to close them out in the first playoff hole.
“I think we are in the good place entering the NCAA Tournament next month. There was no panic from this team and that was a good sign today.”
Sunday proved to be one of the most exciting ACC Tournaments in history. Five teams were within two shots of the lead starting the day. Clemson jumped into the lead with consistent play through the first three hours of play. Over the first 48 holes by Clemson’s four counting players, there was just one bogey.
Clemson took a five-shot lead on the back nine when sophomore Austin Langdale scored an eagle two on the par four 10th hole when he holed a 135-yard shot from the fairway with a nine iron. The ball landed in the cup on the fly. It was the first eagle of the year for Langdale, who shot a team best 69 on Sunday and finished tied for 11th for the 54 holes with a 213 score.
That shot by Langdale put the Tigers at 19 under as a team and five shots ahead of both Georgia Tech and Florida State. Clemson reached 20-under a few minutes later when Langdale made a birdie on the 11th hole. But, Georgia Tech and Florida State went on a birdie barrage while Clemson made a couple of bogeys. Tech was 21 under, Florida State 19 under and Clemson 16 under with just two holes left.
That is when Clemson scored three birdies on the final hole and Tech made pars to force the playoff. A Florida State player made a par on the final hole when a birdie could have made it a three-way playoff.
Kennerly finished in a tie for seventh place with a 209 score for the three days. He shot a 70 on Sunday after a 66 on Saturday. He played the par five holes at six-under for the weekend, second best in the field of 60 golfers. He made 13 birdies, most by a Clemson golfer and fifth best in the field. It was his sixth top 10 finish of the year.
Capps finished just two shots higher with a 211 total and also had a top 10 with a ninth place finish. The North Carolina resident had rounds of 69-71-71 for his 211 total, his second tournament in the last four in which he has shot under par in all three rounds.
Langdale finished with a 213 total for the three rounds, the second straight year he has had that exact total. He finished ninth individually last year, but was 11th this year. He was the only Tiger to score an eagle in the ACC Tournament.
Stephen Behr also had a top 15 finish with a 214 total. He fired a 71 on Sunday and finished the tournament with 11 birdies., tied for second among Clemson players. Clemson was the only team the 12 team field to have four players finish in the top 15 of the standings.
Clemson now awaits its NCAA Tournament bid, which will be announced on Monday, morning, May 4 on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive program.
April 24-26, 2015
Old North State Club New London, N.C.
#Georgia Tech and Clemson 845, 3. Florida State 846, 4. Virginia 853, 5. North Carolina 854, 6. Virginia Tech 856, 7. Louisville 866, 8. Wake Forest 869, 9. N.C. State 884, 10. Duke 886, 11. Notre Dame 911, 12. Boston College 913
# Won championship in second hole of a playoff.
7. Billy Kennerly 209, 9. Miller Capps 211, 11. Austin Langdale 213, 14. Stephen Behr 214, 43. Cody Proveaux 227