Clemson Golf wins NCAA Chapel Hill Regional

CLEMSON, S.C. — Senior Calahan Keever sank an 18-foot birdie putt and East Tennessee State’s Mats Ege missed a 14-foot par putt on the final hole to give Clemson a one-stroke victory at the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional on Wednesday. It gave Clemson its first NCAA regional championship in 20 years and eighth in history.

It was a remarkable victory for Clemson and Head Coach Jordan Byrd. The Tigers were ranked No. 59 in the nation overall and  entered the tournament as the No. 10 seed in the 13-team regional tournament. The Tigers are the first team to win any regional tournament as a double-digit seed since the NCAA adopted the current regional format in 2009.

Clemson finished the tournament with a score of 25-under-par 815, the lowest 54-hole NCAA Tournament score in school history and the fourth lowest for any tournament. Clemson had scores of 275-266 and 274 over the three-round tournament, and it was the first time all year Clemson shot under par in all three rounds of a tournament.

The Tigers now advance to the NCAA National Tournament at Carlsbad, California May 24-29 along with East Tennessee State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Baylor. It will be Clemson’s 34th appearance in the national tournament, its first since 2021.  Clemson won the championship in 2003.

Keever’s birdie on the par four, 489-yard par four 18th hole capped a remarkable final round Clemson comeback. Clemson played the last two holes as a team at six-under par compared to two-under by ETSU. Thomas Higgins and Andrew Swanson both eagled the par 5 17th hole. Swanson and Keever both made birdie on the difficult 18th.

Keever finished the tournament at 10-under-par 200 for the 54 holes on the par 70 course that measured 7,084 yards. His fifth-place finish was the best by a Clemson golfer at this tournament, his best in a team tournament all year, and the best by any Clemson golfer in an NCAA regional since 2021 when Turk Pettit finished fourth at The Golf Club of Tennessee.

Keever had rounds of 65-65-70 for the three rounds. His 65-65 start was the beat for the first 36 holes in Clemson history in an NCAA Tournament. The native of Greenville, S.C. finished with a season high tying 15 birdies, and scored under par on the par three, par four and par five holes. Keever entered the tournament as Clemson’s number-five player with a 73.0 average, and was the No. 543 ranked player in the nation by Spikemark.

Clemson’s best player on Wednesday and second best player in the tournament was Jonathan Nielsen, who had a final round 66 and a 201 score for 54 holes to finish in seventh place. His round on Wednesday included five birdies and just one bogey. He had under-par scores in all three rounds and now has 20 under-par rounds for the year. His 15 rounds in the 60s stand third best in Clemson history.

Thomas Higgins, who had a second round 63 that established a Clemson record for low score in any NCAA Tournament round, had a 68 in the third round on Wednesday and finished 14th with a 204 score. His final round included two eagles and he finished the tournament with three to tie a Clemson record.

Higgins played the par five holes at nine-under-par for the week and he made eagles on the sixth and 17th holes on Wednesday.    With Higgins 14th place finish it marked the first time Clemson had three of the top 15 players at an NCAA Regional since 2017.

Swanson shot an even par 70 on Wednesday and his clutch eagle-birdie finish was a big reason Clemson won the tournament.  He had rounds of 71-71-70 for a 212 total for the tournament, good enough for 34th place.

Alberto Dominguez had a final round 73 and finished with a 215 score for 51st place. He had a strong second round with a team counting score of 69.

Clemson finished the tournament with 60 birdies and five eagles. The eagle total was the most in a tournament all year.

Clemson had some good intangibles going for it this week. Clemson Head Basketball Coach Brad Brownell, who led the Tigers to a victory on the hardcourt over a third-ranked North Carolina this past season, and is the only Clemson basketball coach to win in Chapel Hill, spoke to the team before they left for the regional.

Among the teams Clemson beat at this regional was a fourth ranked North Carolina team on the Tar Heels’ home course. North Carolina had beaten Clemson by 26 shots in the ACC Tournament just three weeks earlier.

Via Clemson Athletic Communications 

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire