ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Tuesday's victory by Clemson at the U.S. Collegiate Championship came at the perfect time - a week before the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
After playing for third place all year behind Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, the Tigers suddenly emerged as an ACC favorite for next week's tournament at Uwharrie Point, N.C., with their first tournament win of the season.
Led by low medalist Stephen Poole, Clemson beat a field of 12 other nationally ranked golf teams at The Golf Club of Georgia. Included in that field were No. 1 Georgia, third-ranked Florida, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
"You can only win the first one once, and I'm proud it's us," said Tigers coach Larry Penley of the inaugural tournament. "Our goal now is to win the ACC."
Poole rallied from a five-shot deficit entering the final round to beat Wake Forest's Webb Simpson and Georgia's Brendon Todd by a shot. His final round of 2-under-par 70 was the second-lowest of the day. His three-round total was 5-under 211.
"I haven't been in position like this in a team event," Poole said. "I've played well in some amateur events before, but not in a team event."
All 13 teams at the U.S. Collegiate were ranked among the top 50 by the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
Clemson won during the final round by getting 71 from Poole and 1-over-par 73s from Tanner Ervin, Brian Duncan and Vince Hatfield.
Florida finished second at 3 over, while Wake Forest faded to a third-place finish at 11 over.