STILLWATER, Okla. – Tony Nimmer helped Clemson to two NCAA Championship appearances back in the early 1980s. Nimmer’s son Bryson, a junior for the Tigers, has a chance to win an NCAA Championship on Monday.
Bryson Nimmer is 9 under through 54 holes of the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek, his rounds of 64-75-68 giving him a two-shot lead over Auburn freshman Brandon Mancheno with one round of stroke play to go.
“I think Tony is really enjoying watching Bryson have the success that he’s had,” said Clemson head coach Larry Penley, a college teammate of Tony Nimmer for two seasons.
Tony Nimmer had quite the college resume himself. He played in two NCAA Championships for the Tigers, and as a senior helped the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1983 championship in Fresno, Calif. The year before that, in 1982, Tony was a part of the program’s first ACC title before finishing 16th at the NCAA Championship at Pinehurst No. 2.
At that 1982 championship, Tony remembers having an 8-foot putt on the last hole to get the Tigers into the fourth and final round, but missed.
“I felt terrible about that,” Tony said.
Thirty-six years later, Bryson Nimmer helped keep Clemson alive after 54 holes. His final-round 4-under 68 led the 12th-place Tigers on a day when freshman Turk Pettit withdrew after already being double-digits over par on the front nine.
The younger Nimmer didn’t immediately gravitate toward golf, and when he finally did, his length – or lack of – held him back. Nimmer doesn’t have fond memories of the first time he played Karsten Creek, during the 2014 AJGA Ping Invitational. The freezing temperatures, rain and 40-mph wind gusts didn’t help Nimmer off the tee.
Nimmer remembers that the final round was canceled after there was standing water on the 15th green and his playing competitor’s ball was blown completely off the putting service.
“It’s definitely a lot nicer now,” Nimmer said.
Nimmer started to gain distance as a sophomore in high school when he began attending the Junior Players Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island, Ga. But by the time he arrived at Clemson in Fall 2015, he still only carried he driver about 245 yards.
“His freshman year, he was short by any standard,” Penley said. “He’s not anymore.”
Nimmer had added 20 yards off the tee by the spring of his freshman season. Now, he can get the driver out there about 285 yards with additional roll.
“We really weren’t sure he was going to be able to play some of these courses,” Tony Nimmer said. “But he’s proven everybody wrong.”
After following his dad to Clemson, Bryson notched three top-5 finishes as a freshman. But he posted a final-round 83 and tied for 188th at the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore, where the Tiger shared 14th before missing the 54-hole cut in a scorecard tiebreaker. A season later, he recorded seven top-10s and was named to the All-ACC first team. Yet at the NCAA Championship in Sugar Grove, Ill., he was T-123 for the last-place Tigers.
This season, Nimmer took a huge step. He posted nine more top-10s, including at ACCs and NCAA regionals, but most importantly improved his course management and short game.
“He developed a putter’s mentality,” Penley said. “He knows he can’t just go fairway and green it and expect to win tournaments; he’s going to have to make putts. And he has had a very good putting week up until now.”
Tony Nimmer was also known for his short game and maturity. Penley remembers his senior year when he and Tony, a sophomore at the time, basically helped prepare the freshmen for college golf as their coach, Bobby Robinson, split his golf duties with serving as the university’s athletic director.
“Tony was a heck of a player and a grinder,” Penley said. “As the greens got worse, Tony putted better. Maybe the best bad green putter I’ve ever seen. Bryson has that trait. If the greens are bad, Bryson is going to make everything.”
The greens at Karsten Creek are far from bad, yet Nimmer has still been able to drain putts. And it could lead him to what would easily be the Nimmer family’s crowning athletic achievement at Clemson, an NCAA individual trophy.