Men's Golf Takes Momentum to Louisiana Classics
BATON ROUGE – Fresh off their spring-opening victory at The Prestige at PGA West on Wednesday, the No. 5-ranked LSU Tigers will take their momentum to Oakbourne Country Club in Lafayette where they square off against another strong field at the 32nd-annual Louisiana Classics hosted by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Teams will play 36 holes on Monday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. CT followed by 18 holes on Tuesday with tee times beginning at 7:30 a.m. with Oakbourne Country Club playing to a par 72 and 7,098 yards.
Fans can watch the Tigers in action at this year’s Louisiana Classics as UL-Lafayette will provide live streaming video of the tournament through its athletics website on Friday and Saturday. Golfstat will also have the live scoring of the event as fans can follow hole-by-hole action online at http://golfstat.com.
LSU In The Rankings
The Tigers have held firm in the Top 5 of the national rankings following their victory at The Prestige at PGA West as they are ranked as high as No. 5 nationally in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
The Tigers also remain in the No. 9 spot in the most recent Bushnell Golfweek Division I Coaches Poll that was released on Feb. 17 ahead of their appearance at PGA West. LSU is also awaiting its ascent up the Top 25 of the Golfstat power rankings while currently slotting in at No. 14 in the country in the organization’s latest ranking published last Tuesday during the second round of The Prestige at PGA West.
LSU headlines a 15-team field alongside No. 2-ranked Illinois, No. 22-ranked Texas A&M and No. 23-ranked Kent State as the top teams in the field in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Rounding out the field is host Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Missouri-Kansas City, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Southern Miss, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and Toledo.
Illinois returns as the defending team champion at the Louisiana Classics after firing a 54-hole score of 15-under par 849 to edge Kansas (850) by one shot and Texas A&M (852) by three shots for the victory in 2016.
The Tigers are back in the field after a two-year hiatus as they last finished runner-up to the Fighting Illini in the spring of 2014. LSU is paired with Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette in Monday’s tournament opening rounds as they will tee off from holes Nos. 1-3 beginning with an 8 a.m. CT shotgun start. The second round will follow at approximately 1 p.m. on Monday.
Third Time’s A Charm
With their victory at The Prestige at PGA West last week, the Tigers have now been crowned the team champion in three of their six collegiate tournaments during the 2016-17 season after also picking up two wins in a row at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and David Toms Intercollegiate in the fall. LSU finished four shots clear at PGA West with a final 54-hole score of even-par 852.
Head coach Chuck Winstead has chosen a familiar lineup this week as senior Eric Ricard, sophomores Sam Burns and Luis Gagne and freshman Philip Barbaree all make their return from the title-winning lineup from the event at PGA West last week. Junior Blake Caldwell has also cracked the starting five on the strength of his top-10 finish while playing as an individual at The Prestige at PGA West.
Three Tigers will also play as individuals alongside their teammates at the Louisiana Classics with senior Rhyne Jones, sophomore Nathan Jeansonne and freshman Carter Toms all earning playing time in Lafayette.
Burns continues lead the way as the No. 2-ranked player in college golf in both the Golfweek and Golfstat individual player rankings. The Ben Hogan Award and Haskins Award candidate finished second last week while firing 5-under par in three rounds at PGA West. He has now finished in the Top 10 in each of his seven tournament appearances this season while owning a team-leading 69.05 scoring average in 21 rounds played in the 2016-17 season. Impressively, Burns has fired 19 of 21 rounds at par or better this year.
Gagne follows Burns as the No. 39-ranked player in the country in the latest Golfweek player rankings while ranking second on the team with a 70.81 scoring average in seven tournament appearances. Ricard averages 72.39 strokes per round in his six starts, while Barbaree, a January enrollee, follows with a 73.33 scoring average in the wake of his collegiate debut at PGA West where he tied for 31st place overall.
Caldwell enjoyed his best tournament as a Tiger last week as he earned his best career finish with a tie for ninth place with a career-low tournament score of 2-under par 211 on the par-71 Greg Norman Course.
After making their return to the Louisiana Classics this week, the Tigers follow with an appearance at the General Hackler Championship being held from March 11-12 at Dunes Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A trip to Palm City, Florida, then awaits as they will tee it up at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational at Floridian Golf Club from March 19-21.