BATON ROUGE – Nine of the nation’s top 50 women’s golf teams are set to tee off Friday morning in the 2013 LSU Tiger Golf Classic at the University Club.
This will be the 32nd consecutive spring that the LSU women’s golf team has hosted a tournament and all but one of those has been played at one of two golf clubs in the city. From 1982 to 1999, the tournament was played at the Fairwood Country Club before moving to the team’s home course, the University Club in 2000. In 2010, the event was held in conjunction with Tulane at English Turn in New Orleans while the U-Club course was being renovated and the tournament returned to the U-Club in 2011.
Last year, Tennessee held off a charge by LSU to win the event for the first time with a score of 16-over par 880 (298-289-293) with the Lady Tigers at 18-over 882 (295-292-295). Tennessee’s Erica Popson ended up in a tie for the medalist honors at 2-under (214) with North Carolina’s Catherine O’Donnell when time and travel considerations at the end of 54 holes negated a playoff.
The U-Club course will play at the same 6,305 yard, par 72 setup that was used a year ago for the event.
Both Tennessee, ranked 29 in the latest Golfstat rankings, and Popson, the top rated played in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings are back to defend in a field of 14 teams that will play 18 holes each day through Sunday.
Included in the field with Tennessee are Arkansas, the top ranked team at No. 8, Georgia (18), North Carolina State (20), Tulane (25), LSU (30), Kentucky (36), Florida State (43) and Ole Miss (48). The rest of the field is ULM, UNC Wilmington, Missouri and TCU.
“I am so looking forward to it,” said Bahnsen Thursday afternoon. “The golf course is in great shape. The greens are very extremely fast, but they are holding very well. I’m really excited about the field. I enjoy doing this tournament with the college-am (on Thursday). This is a very competitive field. “
Right behind Popson in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings is an entire slate of SEC golfers including LSU’s own sophomore No. 1 player Madelene Sagstrom at No. 19. Arkansas’ Gaby Lopez is No. 29 in the country with Georgia players Emilie Burger at No. 35 and Manuela Carbajo Re at No. 40.
Sagstrom is coming off the best tournament of her two-year career at LSU, a second place finish in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at the Long Cove Club at Hilton Head Island, S.C. Sagstrom posted rounds of 71-67-75 for an even par 213.
The Lady Tigers are also coming off their best tournament of the season in the Rucker, finishing second, four shots behind Alabama. The team has improved from each tournament this season and in the past three tournaments has moved up some 20 places to No. 30 in the country entering this event.
“I think the girls are ready,” Bahnsen said. “The last two tournaments really have given them a lot of confidence and they feel like they can compete. The girls are excited about being at home, but that’s a double edge sword. Sometimes the girls can come out and put a little too much pressure on themselves in a situation like this. It’s a matter of handling that, setting down and playing some golf. It’s just a matter of playing smart. That’s our goal this week to play very intelligent golf.”
LSU has won the tournament seven times, the last in 2001. Megan McChrystal in 2010 was the last of eight LSU golfers to win the individual title.
The first tee times Friday are at 8:30 a.m. off hole No. 10 and will feature ULM. The first hole tee times begin at 9 a.m. with Wake Forest, Georgia and North Carolina State in the opening wave. The feature wave of the morning will begin at 10 a.m. with Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU going off the first tee with Popson and Sagstrom playing in the final threesome at 10:50 with Ashleigh Albrecht.
Live scoring for the event came be found at LSUsports.net through Birdiefire.com/tournament and Golfstatresultscom.
Updates during the round will be available on Facebook.com at www.facebook.com/LSUwomensgolf and on Twitter @lsuwomensgolf.