Clemson made three birdies as a team on the final hole of regulation to force a playoff at the men’s ACC Golf Championship on Sunday at The Old North State Club in New London, N.C., but Georgia Tech made four birdies on the second playoff hole to defeat Clemson and win the title.
The Tigers fell short of winning their first ACC championship since they went back-to-back in 2003 and 2004.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team,” head coach Larry Penley said. “They never quit, even when the scoreboard showed us five shots out with just a couple of holes to play.”
Both teams finished 54 holes with a team score of 845; it was the first time the Tigers were in a team playoff since the 2007 NCAA Regional in Alpharetta, Ga.
Clemson forced extra holes when senior Billy Kennerly, Miller Capps and Stephen Behr all made birdies on 18, and a Georgia Tech player made a double bogey on the 17th hole.
The playoff format involved all five players from each team. They played the 18th hole and the top four scores are counted toward 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 the Yellow Jackets won its sixth ACC Tournament title in the last seven years.
Five teams were within two shots of the lead starting the day. Clemson took a five-shot lead on the back nine when sophomore Austin Langdale, a Pendleton product, scored an eagle two on the par four 10th hole when he holed a 135-yard shot from the fairway with a nine iron. 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.
Clemson reached 20-under before Georgia Tech and Florida State went on a birdie barrage. The Tigers trailed the Yellow Jackets by five strokes and FSU by three with two holes left before the late rally.
“I can’t say enough about Billy Kennerly’s play this week and another top 10 finish in a strong field,” Penley said. “We had great contributions for everyone this week.”
Kennerly finished in a tie for seventh place with a 209 score for the three days.
Capps finished just two shots higher with a 211 total and also had a top 10 with a ninth place finish. Stephen Behr also had a top 15 finish with a 214 total.
“I think we are in the good place entering the NCAA tournament next month,” said Penley, who will learn Clemson’s destination May 4. “There was no panic from this team and that was a good sign today.”