It was show time at the Old Overton Club. And what a show this three-act performance proved to be.
It was exciting, it was dazzling and it produced records. When the final curtain came down following Act III on Oct. 17 at the 14th annual Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, there were stars aplenty.
The Clemson Tigers and Georgia Tech’s Bryce Molder used their best college efforts to secure the lead roles.
Clemson, with a team-best round of 16-under-par 268, claimed the title with a tournament record 27-under 825 total.
“We had to play great golf today to win and we did,” said Tigers coach Larry Penley after the final round. “We shot the lowest competitive (18-hole) score in Clemson history and we had to do it in order to win. It’s a tribute to our guys because they kept their patience and hung in there.”
Clemson did, in fact, need a record performance because it finished two shots in front of Georgia, which closed with a 14-under 272. Georgia Tech, which led Georgia by two and Clemson by four after two rounds, finished with a 2-under 282 and was third at 17-under 835. Oklahoma State was a distant fourth at even-par 852, and UAB was fifth at 855.
For Clemson, led by seniors John Engler (64) and Lucas Glover (66) on the final day, it was the first victory of the season after two thirds and a second.
Then there was Molder, who not only grabbed the starring role from the outset, but enhanced his performance each time he was on stage.
He rambled along and wrecked the field in the process en route to his best tournament as a collegian, posting a tournament record 17-under 196 on the 6,958-yard, par 71 Old Overton course, which is hoping to play host to a PGA Tour event in the future.
Molder, a senior and a three-time first-team All-America, closed with a 4-under 67 to go with his rounds of 67-62, the latter being his lowest college round and a competitive course record.
In his round of 62, Molder shot 30 on the back nine – his first nine holes – that included a three-putt (on the 314-yard, par-4 15th hole which he drove) and an unplayable lie penalty at the par-5 16th, which he parred. He had an eagle and seven birdies in the round, with one of those putts being under 5 feet.
“I drove the ball well and putted great,” said Molder, who, even with the three-putt had 23 putts. “With how well I putted, I don’t think I could have gotten much more out of the round.”
Glover finished second at 12-under 201 while Engler was third at 202.
Southern Cal freshman Hunter Mahan, who was coming off back-to-back victories, was fourth at 204, which included a second-round 63.
Rounding out the top five were Georgia’s David Miller and Bryant Odom, both at 206.
Molder is trying to become the fourth player to earn first-team All-America honors in each of his four seasons, joining Gary Hallberg of Wake Forest, Phil Mickelson of Arizona State and David Duval of Georgia Tech.
He is off to a good start in his quest. In three starts this season, Molder, ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, has two wins and a second.
“I felt it was important to get off to a good start this season,” said Molder, who had one eagle, 16 birdies and a lone bogey (on his 54th hole) during his Pate performance. “I’ve been fortunate to do that. Sure, there was some pressure coming in (this season), but I tried not to think about it. My main goal is to play well in order to help the team.”
For Clemson, this was the fourth time in as many years to win this title, causing former U.S. Open champion and tournament host Jerry Pate to say, “We might have to take my name off this event and start calling it the Larry Penley Clemson Intercollegiate.”