Clemson has sent a lot of amateurs to the Masters Tournament, but few might be as cool as Doc Redman under pressure.
The rising sophomore for the Tigers won the U.S. Amateur on Sunday at hallowed Riviera in the most dramatic of fashion, rallying from two holes down with two to play with a 50-foot eagle on 17 and birdie at 18 before winning with another conceded birdie on the first extra hole.
“It’s the greatest match that I’ve witnessed,” said U.S. Walker Cup team captain Spider Miller.
It was a pretty impressive finish for a 19-year-old who only made it into the match play as the No. 62 seed after getting through a 13-man playoff for the last eight spots. Instead of stressing out about his 91st-place standing when he finished his second round of the stroke-play qualifiers at Riviera and Bel-Air, he took off for the beach in Malibu and went to a Dodgers game before finding out his standing had improved to T57 to get in the playoff the next morning.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it and I didn’t want to stress out about it that afternoon so I decided to unplug from my phone and go have a good time,” he said. “I was very happy to kind of be given another shot to move on and a chance to reset from the first two days which were pretty disappointing. I felt very confident at that point that I could get through the playoff and win some matches.”
The Raleigh, N.C., native epitomized California cool all week. In his five matches leading up to the 36-hole final, he won three of them on the 18th green. At one stretch of the taut championship match against Doug Ghim, he sank 12 consecutive putts.
“I trusted in myself a lot coming down the stretch that I had the game to pull it out and if it was meant to be it was meant to be,” he said. “There’s no point, in my eyes, in putting more pressure on yourself than necessary.”
That trait and his putting prowess should come in handy next April when shows up for the Masters. Even though Augusta National traditionally invites both the winner and runner-up from the U.S. Amateur, he’s not getting ahead of himself until he receives his engraved invitation at the end of the year.
“Words are hard to describe how excited I am,” Redman said. “I’m not taking it for granted yet. I’m going to wait ’til the invitation comes and hope that it does. If they invite me, I’ll be very honored.”
Redman will become the 13th former Clemson golfer to compete in the Masters – the seventh to qualify as an amateur. He joins Chris Patton as the only Tigers to win the U.S. Amateur. Patton’s victory in 1989 at Merion was long enough ago that his son, Colby, will join Redman at Clemson this season as a freshman teammate.
Three other Clemson golfers made it to Augusta by reaching the finals of the U.S. Amateur – Parker Moore (1976), Danny Ellis (1993) and Ben Martin (2009). Former Tigers Michael Hoey (2001 British Amateur) and Corbin Mills (2011 U.S. Public Links) qualified for the Masters by winning other amateur events.
Martin, from Greenwood, S.C., is the only one to return to the Masters as a professional. Patton was the only Tiger amateur to make the cut, finishing tied for 39th in 1990 to earn the silver medal for low amateur.
“I’d really just like to go, play my game and hopefully play well,” Redman said. “I’d really like to be the low amateur. I’ll try and do my best, whether that’s missing the cut or finishing top 10, we’ll see.”
Redman did get to play Augusta National earlier this year with his Clemson golf team, shooting a 69. But he’s never been to the Masters or any other professional golf tournament.
But he’s familiar enough with the Augusta area. He tied for 10th and fifth in his two appearances in 2015-16 at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and was runner-up last summer in the Palmetto Amateur.
His game hit another gear when he arrived at Clemson last fall. He started every tournament as a true freshman, winning twice and having his score count in all 39 rounds he played. His 70.77 scoring average was the best for a freshman in Clemson history and second only to D.J. Trahan’s 70.33 all-time.
“I knew that I was a good player but I never set specific goals of wins or finishes,” he said. “I just wanted to get better every day and see where that took me.”
Over the summer, his game built toward his U.S. Amateur win. He never missed a cut on the elite amateur circuit and was runner-up in the prestigious Western Amateur that also went extra holes.
“I think I’ve showed great consistency this summer,” he said.
His U.S. Amateur victory not only earned Redman the usual invitations into the Masters and U.S. Open in 2018, it guaranteed him a spot on the 10-man U.S. Walker Cup team – the first Tiger to make the squad since Kyle Stanley in 2007. Redman will return to Los Angeles for the matches against Great Britain &Ireland on Sept. 9-10 and L.A. Country Club.
“I beat some of the best players in the world, and I hope that this can catapult me up into that conversation as well going forward,” Redman said.