BATON ROUGE – The 17th-ranked and No. 3-seeded LSU men’s golf team certainly took advantage of their opportunity to host the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional this weekend as they qualified for the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships for the third time in four seasons with a third-place team finish in Saturday’s final round at the University Club.
The Tigers are off to the NCAA Championships for the third time in four seasons following back-to-back trips in 2010 and 2011, while they have qualified for the 34th time in the program’s storied history.
After teeing off in Saturday’s final round in a tie for fifth place in the team standings, the Tigers posted their best team score of the tournament with a 5-over par 293 in the finale to climb two spots into third place with a 54-hole score of 26-over par 890 for the championship. It marked their best regional finish in the eight-year tenure of head coach Chuck Winstead.
The Tigers took fifth place at the NCAA Central Regional in 2010 and fourth place at the NCAA Blacksburg Regional in 2011 in their two previous NCAA Championships appearances under Winstead.
The second-ranked and No. 1-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide turned the tables on the 10th-ranked and No. 2-seeded Florida Gators in the final round to take home the regional title with a winning score of 4-over 868 as the top qualifier at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Alabama teed off Saturday facing an eight-shot deficit in the team race, but erased Florida’s lead with the lowest team score of the weekend at 6-under 282 to claim the team title with a winning score of 868. The Gators shot 8-over 296 on Saturday for a final score of 10-over 874.
No. 7 seed Tennessee took fourth place at 28-over 892 and No. 9 seed Coastal Carolina took fifth place at 30-over 894 as the top five teams in the final team standings earned their spot at the NCAA Championships.
Despite teeing off Saturday in third place and fourth place, respectively, South Alabama and Houston fell out of the top five in the final round and finished in a tie for sixth place with matching scores of 32-over par 896.
“We’ve had a pretty good year this year. We’ve played some pretty good golf throughout the year. I’m pleased that these guys were able to come out here these last two days and play well like they’ve done all year,” said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. “You always have an advantage when you play the golf course a bunch, but at the end of the day you have to execute. Our guys did a better job of that the last two days.
“Our mindset today is what I’ve been preaching to the guys, to be as confident as you can be over every shot, over every putt, to be very confident about it. You’re going to get your best outcome that way.”
Junior All-SEC performer Andrew Presley guided the Tigers into the Top 5 of the final team standings and an NCAA Championships berth with a team-leading even-par 72 in the final round as he enjoyed his best career round in relation to par in his two regional appearances. Presley tied for 51st place in the final individual standings with his 54-hole score of 17-over par 233.
Presley rebounded in a big way from his 13-over 85 in Thursday’s opening round and 4-over 76 in Friday’s second round as the top Tiger in Saturday’s finale as he traded four birdies and four bogeys en route to a 72 for the day. After a rocky start with bogeys at the par-four first and par-five third holes, Presley bounced back with birdies at the par-four fourth, par-four seventh and par-three eighth holes to turn at 1-under par.
He then traded a bogey at the par-five 11th hole with a birdie at the par-four 12th hole before making bogey at the par-five 17th hole for an even-par score of 72 in his final round at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Presley recently earned his second-straight Second-Team All-SEC honor as he has proven himself as one of the SEC’s premier performers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
“This will be my first time, so I’m really excited about it,” Presley said of LSU’s return trip to the NCAA Championships. “I think we’ve built some confidence over the course of this season. Making it through here is a big confidence booster for us. I think we’ll play well at nationals. Our key today was finishing strong. We knew we had a little bit of a cushion coming down to the end, but still had to finish strong and qualify.”
Junior First-Team All-SEC selection Curtis Thompson earned his first career top-10 finish in a regional championship by tying for 10th place on the leaderboard at 4-over par 220 in three rounds at the University Club here this weekend. Thompson fired LSU’s lowest scores in the first and second rounds with a 3-over 75 on Thursday and a stellar 1-under 71 on Friday.
Thompson actually tied Presley for the team lead this season with his fifth top-10 finish on the campaign. He has also finished among the Top 20 of the leaderboard in 10 of his 12 tournament starts as a sophomore.
Fellow sophomore Stewart Jolly matched his performance from the second with a second-straight score of 1-over par 73 on Saturday to crack the Top 15 of the final leaderboard. Jolly scored his best career finish in the two regional starts as an LSU Tiger as he tied for 14th place overall with a 54-hole score of 6-over par 222 at the University Club.
Sophomore Myles Lewis finished with his lowest round of the tournament at 2-over 74 to tie for 24th place on the leaderboard at 9-over par 225, while freshman Zach Wright added a second-straight round of 3-over 75 in his finale to tie for 28th place overall at 10-over par 226 in his regional debut with the Tigers.
Alabama’s fifth-year senior Scott Strohmeyer was crowned the individual champion at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional after firing a 3-under 69 during Saturday’s action to overcome a two-shot deficit to Florida’s Day 2 leader TJ Vogel. Strohmeyer was one of just four players in the field to break par for 54 holes with his winning score of 4-under par 212 for three rounds.
Alabama teammate Bobby Wyatt made a late charge at the regional title as he fired the lowest round of the championship at 6-under 66 on Saturday to move up 12 spots into second place at 2-under par 214.
Vogel carded a 2-over 74 and Florida’s Tyler McCumber posted a 1-over 73 as the Gator teammates tied one another for third place on the leaderboard with matching three-round totals of 1-under 215. Tennessee star Oliver Goss also cracked the Top 5 of the final leaderboard in fifth place at even-par 216, including his 2-under 70 in Saturday’s final round.
South Alabama’s Tyler Klava earned an NCAA Championships berth as an individual as he was the top finisher on the leaderboard not among the top five teams in the final team standings.
After tying Georgia State’s Jonathan Grey for sixth place with matching scores of 2-over par 218 for 54 holes, Klava and Grey turned right around and played the 18th hole in a sudden-death playoff to determine which would advance to the NCAA Championships from the Baton Rouge Regional as the individual qualifier. Klava earned the right with his par as Grey was eliminated with a bogey on the first playoff hole.
The Tigers will return to action in less than two weeks as they tee off at the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships on Monday, May 27, as the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga., will play host to the final event of the collegiate event for 2012-13. This year’s NCAA Championships will run through the national championship match on June 2.
NCAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL – FINAL ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 864)
1. Alabama 296-290-282 – 868 +4; 2. Florida 286-292-296 – 874 +10; 3. LSU 303-294-293 – 890 +26; 4. Tennessee 300-304-288 – 892 +28; 5. Coastal Carolina 302-295-297 – 894 +30; T6. Houston 300-396-300 – 896 +32; T6. South Alabama 296-297-303 – 896 +32; 8. Northwestern 303-304-300 – 907 +43; 9. UAB 308-300-300 – 908 +44; 10. Mississippi State 310-302-297 – 909 +45; 11. Wichita State 304-309-307 – 920 +56; 12. Southeastern Louisiana 308-309-308 – 925 +61; 13. Houston Baptist 313-311-309 – 933 +69.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 216)
1. Scott Strohmeyer, Alabama, 70-73-69 – 212 -4; 2. Bobby Wyatt, Alabama, 75-73-66 – 214 -2; T3. Tyler McCumber, Florida, 70-72-73 – 215 -1; T3. TJ Vogel, Florida, 70-71-74 – 215 -1; 5. Oliver Goss, Tennessee, 73-73-70 – 216 E; T6. Peter Valasek, Coastal Carolina, 75-74-69 – 218 +2; T6. Justin Thomas, Alabama, 73-72-73 – 218 +2; T6. Tyler Klava, South Alabama, 76-70-72 – 218 +2; T6. Jonathan Grey, Georgia State, 72-75-71 – 218 +2; T10. Curtis Thompson, LSU, 75-71-74 – 220 +4; T10. Blake Morris, Ole Miss, 75-72-73 – 220 +4.