BATON ROUGE - The terms "ties" and "lead changes" is usually reserved for basketball games, but the final few holes were frantic for those watching live scoring on the course as the LSU and Tennessee women's golf teams battled back and forth before Tennessee was able to sneak out a two-stroke victory over LSU Sunday afternoon at the LSU University Club.
In even more dramatic style, Catherine O'Donnell of North Carolina, with Erica Popson of Tennessee already in the clubhouse with a 54-hole total of 2-under 214, birdied one of the more difficult holes on the course, the par five 3rd hole to also get to the 2-under 214. The third was her final hole of the round in the shotgun format used for the final round that had all the players on the course at the same time.
Because of travel arraignments it was determined that there wasn't time for a playoff and co-championships were awarded.
Tennessee would shoot a five-over 293 on the final day, while LSU posted a seven-over 295 after the teams entered the day tied after 36 holes. LSU has the lead early, but Tennessee was staying with the Lady Tigers, taking the lead, only to have LSU come back to equal and go ahead as the teams battled a vicious wind over the final nine holes.
"The front nine was fine and we made the turn and it was like someone turned the fan on," said LSU Coach Karen Bahnsen. "It was blowing like crazy. It really made the course playing extremely tough coming home."
Tennessee finished at 16-over 880 with LSU at 18-over 882. North Carolina made a late charge to get back to nine of the lead at 25-over 889 then it was another 19 shots back to Vanderbilt at 44-over 908. It was another 11 shots back to fifth place North Carolina State at 55-over 919 as State made the biggest move of the day after starting the final round in a tie for 10th place.
LSU golfers had a strong showing even though the Lady Tigers fell just short of their fourth team tournament title of the year. Freshman Madelene Sagstrom had the lead entering the final round, but hit a ball in the water on 17 that cost her any chance to get a share of the title. But in her first home tournament with her parents in from Sweden watching, Sagstrom posted a 2-over 74 and finished the 54 holes at even par 216 in third place (71-71-74).
Sophomore Austin Ernst didn't let the wind bother her on the back nine, closing out the tournament with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes to shoot event par on the day and finish in solo fourth at 2-over 218 (73-73-72).
But in the end, LSU was so close to getting their fourth win at the U-Club and their first since 2005.
"Basically we just didn't do what we needed to do at the end to win," said Bahnsen. "My hat is off to Tennessee. They played great golf. Erica (Popson) made some great putts. She made tremendous putts and that was the difference. We are going to keep fighting and this will make us stronger and make us better."
Bahnsen also talked about Sagstrom and Ernst and their finishes in the tournament.
"Ernst is a fighter like the rest of this team," the dean of SEC coaches said. "Even though we didn't win, this team fought to the end so I am proud of them. Did we make some mistakes, yes. They could not have tried any harder.
"As a freshman coming in here her (Sagstrom) to have the lead and be in contention here, says a lot. She had a little hiccup, but got her composure back and kept fighting. It's a great position for her to be that will be something she can build on and I see her winning in the future."
The Tigers are off until the end of the month when they play their final spring tournament, the PING/Arizona State Invitational, March 30-April 1.
LSU TIGER GOLF CLASSIC
FINAL TEAM RESULTS (Par 288-864)
1. Tennessee 298-289-293 - 880 +16; 2. LSU 295-292-295 - 882 +18; 3. North Carolina 301-300-288 - 889 +25; 4. Vanderbilt 302-299-307 - 908 +44; 5. North Carolina State 308-318-293 - 919 +55; 6. Virginia 304-304-317 - 925 +61; 7. Kentucky 311-303-312 - 926 +62; 8. Purdue 311-312-304 - 927 +63; 9. Louisville 314-308-308 - 930 +66; 10. Notre Dame 318-310-306 - 934 +70; 11. UNC Wilmington 315-311-309 - 935 +71; 12. TCU 306-314-317 - 937 +73; 13. Charleston 322-307-313 - 942 +78; 14. ULM 317-313-318 - 948 +84.
Individual Top 15 (par 72-216) NOTE - CO-Champions declared.
1. Catherine O'Donnell, North Carolina, 72-71-71 - 214 -2; 1. Erica Popson, Tennessee, 75-70-69 - 214 -2; 3. Madelene Sagstrom, LSU, 71-71-74 - 216 E; 4. Austin Ernst, LSU, 73-73-72 - 218 +2; 5. Augusta James, NC State, 73-77-70 - 220 +4; 5. Marina Alex, Vanderbilt, 70-75-75 - 220 +4; 7. Nathalie Mansson, Tennessee, 76-73-73 - 222 +6; 7. Laura Gonzalez, Purdue, 74-75-73 - 222 +6; 9. Irina Gabasa, Vanderbilt, 77-74-72 - 223 +7; 10. A. J. Newell, Tennessee, 76-73-75 - 224 +8; 10. Katherine Perry, North Carolina, 76-77-71 - 224 +8; 10. Tessa Teachman, LSU, 73-77-74 - 224 +8; 14. Betsie Johnson, Kentucky, 78-71-76 - 225 +9; 14. Ashley Armstrong, Notre Dame, 77-74-74 - 225 +9.
3. Madelene Sagstrom 71-71-74 - 216 E
4. Austin Ernst 73-73-72 - 218 +2
T10. Tessa Teachman 73-77-74 - 224 +8
T18. Jacqueline Hedwall 78-73-76 - 227 +11
T23. Lindsay Gahm 79-75-75 - 229 +13
T50. Katrina Hegge* 79-80-77 - 236 +20
* competed as individual