LSU At the Game: Seniors Seek Second NCAA Title
Communications Student Assistant
The LSU men's golf team has risen to the top of college golf in recent years, sweeping SEC and NCAA championships in 2015 and qualifying for the Match Play Eight at the NCAA Championships in each of the past three seasons.
LSU's success has been a group effort, and this year will be no different. Two senior All-Americans will shoulder the load and show the way for their teammates as Eric Ricard and Brandon Pierce play their final seasons as LSU Tigers.
Pierce, a Louisiana native, has always had a love for LSU, so winning a national championship for the Tigers was a dream come true.
"My dad and grandpa went to LSU so it was a dream come true to play here," Pierce said. "Being a part of such a successful program, I loved helping LSU achieve some lofty goals."
Ricard has a deep love for his university and has seen the national championship of two years ago bring untold recognition to LSU.
"As a college golfer the ultimate dream is to win a championship, and after doing that I think we brought a lot of interest to the program," Ricard said.
With the leadership and maturity of these two returning seniors, the Tigers are confident in having a great season.
"It was a great experience to come from behind and win SECs for our first time," said Ricard. "That win sparked our team, and gave us the confidence to win nationals."
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"We have a really solid team this year," Pierce added. "Coming in my freshman year I looked up to all of the older guys not knowing what college golf was like, but this year I've been trying to take more of a leadership role."
In just their first three tournaments of the fall season, the Tigers look as strong as ever, taking home two wins in those three starts. They have already soared as high as No. 2 in the national rankings thanks to their performance.
Even with a lofty ranking, the Tigers are still looking to improve, and they believe the maturity of the team will be far greater this season than last.
The Tigers returned to the Match Play Eight at the NCAA Championships last spring while starting two freshmen in the lineup. With Luis Gagne and Sam Burns returning as sophomores after an entire year of experience, the team will look to improve again and compete for another national championship.
"Some of the young guys getting experience in big tournaments last year was huge," Ricard said. "The transition from junior golf to college can be difficult, so I think we will be more prepared this year."
LSU's senior All-Americans are no strangers when it comes to being a part of a successful team, and they know these next two fall tournaments are key to preparing their game for a grueling spring season.
Ricard believes the break between the fall and spring seasons on the college calendar is a critical time to practice and stay tournament-ready.
"One thing I learned from the older guys on the championship team was to stay focused the entire season," Ricard said. "Practicing every day is so important, not just hitting balls, but working towards a goal."
A special season certainly appears on the cards for these Tigers. It is clear that Pierce, Ricard and the rest of the 2016-17 LSU men's golf team have a date in May circled on their calendars for Sugar Grove, Illinois, as the site of this year's NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships.