Search
Close this search box.

Florida State Men’s Golf Team Is First in Class

Florida State shakes Auburn's hands after a close match for the national title.

We know it’s been a week since Auburn won the NCAA DI Men’s Golf Championship, but we can’t stop thinking about Florida State. To lose in the last match like that on the 17th hole was heartbreaking, but how the men’s team handled themselves was truly refreshing.

Let’s rewind to the first two rounds of match play. Florida State defeated North Carolina – a higher seeded team – to advance to the Semifinals and were then matched with Georgia Tech.

Advancing to the NCAA Finals

Florida State coach congratulates players as they advance to the Finals.
Florida State coach congratulates players as they advance to the Finals. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Georgia Tech had themselves a week out at Carlsbad, Calif. After a strong first round, Christo Lamprecht – their star player and the number one ranked amateur in the world – was subbed out the next day due to a locked and spasming back. Subbing out of the stroke play cost Lamprecht his chance to race Stanford’s Michael Thorbjornsen for his PGA Tour card in the PGA Tour University Rankings, ultimately finishing in the number two spot.

Lamprecht’s sub, Aidan Tran, stepped up big time and helped the team make the first cut and ultimately advance to match play. Of course, individual title winner Hiroshi Tai also played a huge role in Georgia Tech’s success.

All of that to say, Georgia Tech had a lot of momentum coming into the NCAA Semifinals, especially after defeating the number one seed, Illinois, who had a ridiculously large lead over the rest of the teams after four days of stroke play.

When the Semifinals match started, Georgia Tech made a last-minute substitution and put Christo Lamprecht back in to play against one of Florida State’s top players and fellow Haskins Award finalist, Luke Clanton.

Florida State went on to win by one match, and it was the first moment we witnessed how close this team really was. With two matches finishing on Hole 1 (pushed to extra holes) and Hole 17, Clanton, Gray Albright and Cole Anderson ran around the course trying to watch their teammates.

Both Florida State players – Tyler Weaver and Frederik Kjettrup – had won their matches and advanced Florida State to their first-ever NCAA Finals match play.

A shuttle was bringing back the match that finished on Hole 17, and we overheard Clanton exclaiming that he couldn’t wait for the shuttle to come in and then sprinted up Hole 18 towards Kjettrup to celebrate.

FSU Head Coach Trey Jones is happy to head to the NCAA Finals.
FSU Head Coach Trey Jones is happy to head to the NCAA Finals. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

When Fairway to Green asked Florida State Head Coach Trey Jones about how he created such a supportive culture on the team, he said, “We recruit special people.” Clanton is only a sophomore, but he’s already having a tremendous impact on the team – just take him finding out 10 minutes before his tee time that he’s competing against one of the top players in the world and then beating him.

After interviews, the team huddled as senior Anderson spoke to them all. Jones had recruited special people, indeed.

Florida State gathers in front of the scoreboard for a sweet moment.
Florida State gathers in front of the scoreboard for a sweet moment. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Playing in the NCAA Finals

The national title up for grabs would have been a first for both Florida State and Auburn, so the stakes were high.

We’ve already recounted the final day, though we want to focus again on the last match of the day that would determine who would leave Omni La Costa as winners. It was up to Clanton and J.M. Butler from Auburn.

Butler had hit a beautiful shot from the fairway onto the green – 33 feet away. Clanton had hit his ball short of the green out of a fairway bunker. Clanton knew he had to hole out to have any chance of pushing the match to the 18th hole. He pulled the pin and hit a magnificent shot that rolled right up to, into and then out of the hole.

Clanton collapsed onto the ground when the ball popped out, knowing Butler could two-putt to win the championship from his spot on the green. The heartbreak from Clanton and the team was palpable, with their tears extending to many of those watching, our staff included.

As the Auburn team tackled Butler for their win, the Florida State team once again huddled in the fairway and comforted Clanton and one another. One could only admire how united this team was, win or lose.

Florida State comforts one another after Auburn wins the national title.
Florida State comforts one another after Auburn wins the national title. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

The next moment is why this Florida State team will always be first in class. They approached the green and shook everyone’s hands, even hugging some of the players and coaches who just defeated them by one point.

Sportsmanship can sometimes disappear in high-stakes events like these, and even though golf matches always end with individual handshakes, it was refreshing to see a team make the extra effort to congratulate the victor just moments after a loss. It would have been so easy – and normal – to sulk and immediately leave the celebration, but these men took their loss in stride and handled the situation in a way they could be proud of.

With that tough end to their season, the Florida State team, led by Clanton, will come back with a vengeance next year to win their first national title. And they’ll be classy while doing it.

Share the Post:

Related Posts