Assistant Coach – Fifth Season
2016 Jan Strickland Award Finalist
2012 Dave Williams Award
2012 Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year
2012 Eaton Golf Pride South Region Coach of the Year
The 2014-15 season is one for the ages in the history of the LSU Men’s Golf program as the Tigers staked their claim as the premier program in college golf with a 4-1 win over the USC Trojans in the NCAA Championship Match to cap their run to the national title at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. It was the program’s fifth national championship all-time, and first in 60 years after they were also crowned champions in 1940, 1942, 1947 and 1955.
The Tigers had a taste of the title a season before in 2014 while reaching the Final Four of match play for the first time. They finished the job the following spring when five All-Americans took down SEC rivals Vanderbilt and Georgia in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds before taming the Trojans in the finals in one of the most comprehensive victories in the NCAA Championship Match.
Seniors Stewart Jolly and Ben Taylor, both All-Americans following LSU’s Final Four run in 2014, joined junior Zach Wright and sophomores Brandon Pierce and Eric Ricard as one of the most celebrated teams in the history of LSU Athletics while winning the school’s 47th NCAA team championship.
The Tigers earned the No. 7 seed in match play after finishing in seventh place in the stroke play qualifying with their score of 17-over par in four rounds at Concession Golf Club.
Pierce and Wright both capped an All-American 2015 spring season by tying for 11th place on the NCAA Championship leaderboard with even-par scores of 288 to lead the Tigers back into match play for the second year in a row after they officially tied for third place nationally in 2014.
Pierce, who broke David Toms’ single-season scoring record of 71.26 from 1988-89 with a career best 71.16 as the team’s leading scorer in 2014-15, was named a Golfweek Third-Team All-American and PING Honorable Mention All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America following his breakout sophomore season. Wright and Ricard scored PING Honorable Mention All-American accolades of their own in the wake of LSU’s national championship victory.
The Tigers were also crowned SEC Champions for the first time in 28 years and the 16th time in their history when they scored a three-stroke victory over Vanderbilt and South Carolina at the 2015 SEC Championships. A season after finishing second to Alabama in the team standings, the Tigers took down the Tide with a score of 13-under par 827 to win their first conference title since the 1987 spring season.
The Tigers nearly defended their national championship a year ago while returning to the Match Play Eight for the third year in a row as quarterfinalists at the 2016 NCAA Championships held at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club. That’s where Sam Burns and Luis Gagne capped their debut season as All-Americans by tying for 13th place nationally as the top Tigers in the NCAA field.
Instrumental in LSU’s return to national prominence has been former Tiger and 2016 Jan Strickland Award finalist Garrett Runion, who enters his fifth season back with the program as a member of head coach Chuck Winstead’s staff after returning to his alma mater prior to the 2012-13 campaign.
Winstead announced on June 22, 2012, that Runion would return to LSU as an assistant coach for the program after he guided the Sharks of Nova Southeastern University to the NCAA Division II national championship in his one and only season as head coach in 2011-12.
Runion’s first season back in Baton Rouge proved to be another strong campaign for the Tigers as they again qualified for the 2013 NCAA Championships. LSU tied for 23rd place at the NCAA Championship held at Atlanta’s Capital City Club to highlight a season that also saw the squad claim team titles in back-to-back events at the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate and David Toms Intercollegiate in the fall season of 2012.
Runion has been part of four-straight teams to earn a spot in the 30-team NCAA field as LSU has qualified in six of the last seven years in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The Tigers have also been rewarded for their outstanding performance on the course, led by Curtis Thompson’s breakthrough sophomore season in 2012-13 as an Honorable Mention All-American and First-Team All-SEC performer for the first time in his career. Junior Andrew Presley was also named a Second-Team All-SEC performer for the second-straight season.
Thompson earned a repeat selection as an Honorable Mention All-American and Second-Team All-SEC performer in 2014 as three Tigers were recognized as All-Americans following the team’s historic Final Four run. Jolly took Third-Team All-America honors along with a First-Team All-SEC selection, while Taylor joined Thompson as an Honorable Mention All-American following the NCAA Final Four.
Not only did Pierce, Ricard and Wright earn their first career All-SEC honors in 2015, but they joined Jolly as second-team selections after leading the Tigers to the SEC Championship that season. Wright followed with a First-Team All-SEC selection in a senior season in 2016 in which he also claimed a Second-Team All-America honor from both PING and Golfweek.
In all, the Tigers have captured 11 team and 11 individual titles in tournament play along with 10 All-American selections and nine All-SEC honors since Runion’s return to Baton Rouge in the fall of 2012.
Runion has returned to his alma mater following a 2011-12 season in which he led Nova Southeastern to the NCAA Division II title with a dominating 5-0 win over Chico State University in the title match held on May 19, 2012, at Cardinal Club Golf Course in Simpsonville, Kentucky.
Their run to the national championship highlighted a historic season for the Nova Southeastern Sharks as they also won the Sunshine State Conference championship during the 2012 spring season. Runion was recognized as the recipient of the Dave Williams Award as the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year, as well as earning Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year and Eaton Golf Pride South Region Coach of the Year awards for the 2011-12 season.
Runion actually served two seasons at Nova Southeastern as the team also captured the SCC title during a strong 2010-11 campaign in which he served as the program’s assistant head coach.
A native of Orlando, Florida, Runion was a three-year letterwinner during his collegiate career with the Tigers as he called Baton Rouge home in four seasons from 2003-08. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and three-time SEC Community Service Team selection, Runion graduated from LSU in the May 2008 with his Bachelor of Arts & Science degree in general studies. He also serves as the Assistant Coach Representative for NCAA Division I on the National Golf Coaches Association of America’s National Advisory Board.
Runion and his wife, Meghan, have one son, Reid Shaffer Runion, aka “Rocket,” who was born on March 20, 2015.