After Doc Redman sunk a 50-foot putt for eagle in Sunday’s U.S. Amateur Championship at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Hunter Renfrow saw something very familiar in the Clemson sophomore.
For three years Renfrow watched one of the Tigers’ best competitors shine on the biggest of stages. Former quarterback Deshaun Watson had become a master at it as he stepped up in big games and made big plays, especially when his team needed him the most.
Though Redman was only playing for himself on Sunday, Renfrow recognized the poise, the will and the want to Redman was displaying, while at the same time just having fun. It reminded the Clemson wide receiver of the experience he had eight months earlier in Tampa, Fla., when the Tigers rallied to beat Alabama for the national championship.
“Just the poise, yeah, I guess you could say Deshaun or anybody on the team last year during that two-minute drive,” Renfrow said. “Just having fun, that’s what it is about. He has done this millions and millions of times, so just go out there and do what you did in practice.”
Though Redman still needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, Renfrow was confident the sophomore was going to get it done.
“We are all jumping around and then he goes on 18 and hits a great iron shot and putts it in and then he hits a three-wood on that par-four (in the playoff) and put it right in between those two bunkers. Just a phenomenal shot,” Renfrow said. “You could tell he was not really (nervous) … the moment was never too big for him.
“He was just going on the attack and having fun.”
And that’s what Redman did as he beat Texas’ Doug Ghim to win the 117th U.S. Amateur Golf Championship, just the second Clemson golfer to do so. Chris Patton won the United States Amateur in 1989 at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
Renfrow was so impressed he said what Redman did was way more impressive than his game-winning catch in the national title game.
“You got that whole gallery behind you and it is just you up there,” the Clemson receiver said. “You don’t have teammates around you. But to do what he did, and to come from behind, just make that long putt … that was unbelievable. To eagle that hole and then birdie at Riviera and then to come back and par (the 10th), he probably could have birdie if he went for it.”
Renfrow admitted, up until Saturday, he had no idea Redman was a Clemson golfer. Then he started seeing all the chatter on Twitter so he texted Clemson’s Director of Football Communications Tim Bourret for Redman’s number so he could shoot him a text of encouragement.
Renfrow, who is a huge golf fan, told Redman to have fun and know that all of Clemson is proud of him and when he gets back to Clemson let’s go hit it around.
“My message to him was to just go out there and have fun,” Renfrow said.
And Redman did. Even Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney noticed. He too reached out to Redman on Saturday night and had “a fun conversation” with the Clemson golfer. Swinney admitted he was so busy with football camp, he did not realize the U.S. Amateur was going on or had a Clemson player in contention. But Bourret told him about Redman and then Swinney was very much into on Sunday evening.
“So then, obviously, I kept up with it. It was just awesome,” the Clemson coach said. “It was awesome to see him have the mental toughness. That’s a lot. That is a grind right there. To have the mental toughness to go make the eagle and the fifty-foot putt or whatever you got to make to put himself in position to go send it to overtime, I guess.
“What a spectacular moment and I’m real proud for him, Larry (Penley) and what they do in their program. It is awesome. It is good to see Clemson on top in anything.”
It was a remarkable comeback for Redman in the championship match and the entire week. When he finished his second round of the stroke play qualifier at 12:30 p.m., on Tuesday with a four-over-par 144, he was in 91st place. But the conditions at Riviera and Bel-Air Country Club became more challenging and 34 players dropped below Redman, allowing him to tie for 57th at the end of the day.
Redman came back Wednesday morning for a 13-man playoff for eight spots. The freshman All-American made a par on the 10thhole, the same hole he clinched the match with on Sunday, to advance to match play as the No. 62 seed. He then won six consecutive matches to capture the championship.
As the No. 62 seed, Redman is the second highest seeded player to win the U.S. Amateur since the seeding process began in 1985. Steven Fox was the No. 63 seed when he won the championship in 2012.
Redman, Fox and Edwardo Molinaro (2005) are the only U.S. Amateur Champions to reach match play through a playoff.
Now Redman’s name is forever linked with former U.S. Amateur Champions like Tiger Woods and Phil MicKelson.
“Just to be able to relate,” Renfrow said. “Clemson is such a small place, but has some great athletes and I think he proved that.”
–Photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications
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