NCAA Men’s Golf 2022: Clemson, SC tournament preview
With both teams led by one of the nation’s top college golfers, South Carolina and Clemson are looking to build on already strong seasons in the NCAA Tournament that begins Monday.
The Gamecocks, ranked 24th in the Golfstat poll, head to the Norman, Oklahoma Regional with credentials that include three tournament wins. The 23rd-ranked Tigers will attend the Columbus, Ohio Regional in an effort to make their first season under coach Jordan Byrd even more successful.
Each team’s top gun — Ryan Hall for the Gamecocks and Jacob Bridgeman for the Tigers — is among the best players in their respective program’s history.
But the team’s format – top four scores from five players – demands quality throughout. Coaches, Byrd and Bill McDonald of USC, know their teams need to bounce back from lackluster performances in conference tournaments.
USC and Clemson are ranked fourth in their region, and the top five teams after 54 holes from each of the six regionals qualify for the national championships that begin May 27 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“We just have to focus on what we can control,” said Byrd, who took over from Hall of Famer Larry Penley.
Continuing the same theme, McDonald’s emphasized “look at what’s ahead, not what’s behind us.”
What awaits the Gamecocks will be a roster without No. 2 Jack Wall, a junior who injured his wrist in the first round of the SEC Championship. He will be replaced by freshman Gene Zeigler, who joined the roster for the rest of the SEC and played seven tournaments in total.
If Zeigler delivers like rookie Nathan Franks and second Rafe Reynolds, new to the roster this season, he will soothe the wounds of Wall’s absence.
“Nathan has gone from fringe to becoming a big part of our program,” McDonald said. “We needed guys to play key roles, and he and Rafe did. Evans (Lewis, a senior transfer) was also important.
Hall offers solidity at the top. The eldest from Knoxville, Tennessee had a standout season and McDonald compares him favorably to the best players in Carolina history.
“Very comparable to Matt (NeSmith, now on the PGA Tour),” the coach said. “These two are the best since I’ve been here (15 seasons).”
The Norman Regional includes No. 1 Oklahoma, highly ranked Texas and three other SEC teams.
“All regionals are tough, but I think the course will be well organized for us,” McDonald said. “We know we will have wind and we know the competition will be tough, but we want to add to an already very good season.”
The terrain Clemson will face in Columbus is just as big, and that’s what Byrd has prepared his team for. The Tigers’ schedule was ranked sixth nationally.
“A good test on a large golf course that will separate the field,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but that’s what you want. You want to determine the top five teams (to advance to Nationals). »
He’s inherited a veteran squad with four seniors or graduates on the roster, and he’s looking for a solid finish in what he calls “my favorite time of the year.” We had a nice break to catch our breath, get together and train, hang out together and have fun, and prepare for what lies ahead.
He needs help, sure, but Bridgeman is the closest thing to a sure thing in college golf. The ACC Player of the Year, he ranks atop individual production and has finished in the top four – two wins – in his last five tournaments.
“He belongs to an elite group of golfers who played at Clemson,” Byrd said. “Overall, that’s where we want to be at this time of year, and I’m excited to see how we respond.”
Chip shots. The South Carolina women’s team is tied for second in the Tallahassee Regional and has qualified for the national championship tournament which begins May 20 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Coach Kalen Anderson’s team competed at nationals for the 10th time in the past 12 years. … Competing in the Stillwater, Oklahoma Regional, the Clemson women failed to advance. As each region’s top four progressed, the Tigers slipped from third to seventh over the final 18 holes. … Furman’s Anna Morgan (Spartanburg) will compete in the Women’s Nationals as an individual. …Charles Shealy, the West Columbia golfing treasure who turns his age almost every time he plays, celebrated his 99and birthday the other day shooting an 88 at the Mid-Carolina Club. … At the DeBordieu club near Georgetown, Logan Sowell (Bluffton), Avery Price (Georgetown), Bryson Nimmer (Okatie), Andrew Swanson (Bluffton) and Blaine Bunch (Savannah) qualified for the US Open section . … Stan Sill (Spartanburg) birdied the first playoff hole to edge Eddie Hargett (Blythewood) and win the South Carolina senior championship at Orangeburg CC.