Men's Golf Eyes Third-Straight Title in Georgia

Sam Burns has earned three-straight Top 10s to start the season!
Sam Burns has earned three-straight Top 10s to start the season!
Chris Parent (@chrisparent)
Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – After wins at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and David Toms Intercollegiate in recent weeks, the No. 2-ranked LSU Tigers eyes their third-straight tournament title at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate this weekend as the tournament will be held on both the Lakeside and Creekside courses beginning Friday.

The Lakeside Course will play to a par 72 and 7,017 yards for the weekend, while the Creekside Course will also play to a par 72 and 7.039 yards for the championship hosted by Georgia Tech.

The Tigers open the tournament by playing the Creekside Course in Friday’s opening round beginning at 9 a.m. CT, while they follow by teeing it up at the Lakeside Course in Saturday’s second round with tee times set for 8:55 a.m. The championship will be decided on the Lakeside Course on Sunday morning with play scheduled to begin at 7 a.m.

LSU In The Rankings

The Tigers have climbed as high as No. 2 in the national rankings in the wake of two-straight wins as they trail only top-ranked Illinois in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index released Monday. They are even up to No. 4 in the current Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Top 25 poll and No. 6 in this week’s Golfstat Top 25 power rankings.

The Field

An NCAA Championship caliber field will tee it up at the Golf Club of Georgia this weekend as LSU is among five top-10, 11 top-25 and 14 top-50 teams to feature in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

The Tigers are the top-ranked team in the field in the No. 2 spot in Golfweek’s national power ranking, while No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Auburn, No. 7 Wake Forest and No. 9 Virginia also arrive in Alpharetta ranked in the Top 10. Also vying for the team title are No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 13 Stanford, No. 20 Southern California, No. 21 Clemson, No. 22 Duke and No. 24 Georgia Tech.

Rounding out the field of 17 teams competing in the championship this weekend are No. 26-ranked Texas A&M, No. 27-ranked Texas, No. 31-ranked UCLA, East Tennessee State, TCU and Villanova.

Auburn and Wake Forest were crowned co-champions last year in the event formerly known as the United States Collegiate Championship when they posted winning scores of 9-under par 855 to finish four shots clear of Clemson in third place at 5-under par 859. LSU placed 11th in a field of 17 teams competing a year ago.

LSU is paired with two-time tournament champion Clemson and Virginia in each of the first two rounds, while pairings for Sunday’s final round will be determined based on the team scores after 36 holes.

Golfstat will provide live scoring throughout at http://www.golfstat.com. Fans can also receive updates by following @LSUMensGolf on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lsumensgolf and @lsumensgolfteam on Instagram at http://instagram.com/lsumensgolfteam and by liking the LSU Men’s Golf page on Facebook at http://facebook.com/lsumensgolf.

Two-For-Two

The 2015 NCAA Champions have caught fire this fall with wins in each of their last two tournament appearances at the inaugural Maui Jim Intercollegiate held Sept. 23-25 at Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, with a school-record score and also the eighth-annual David Toms Intercollegiate held Oct. 4-5 on their home course at The University Club in Baton Rouge.

The Tigers posted their lowest tournament score in at least the last 30 years with a winning effort of 41-under par 811 at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate to finish five shots clear of Baylor for the team championship.

That is where sophomore All-American Luis Gagne won his first collegiate title with a career-best and school-record score of 17-under 196 in 54 holes played at Mirabel Golf Club, including career-low rounds of 6-under 65 in the first and second rounds. Gagne followed with his second win on the spin at the David Toms Intercollegiate two weeks later as he was crowned quad-champion with teammates Sam Burns, Brandon Pierce and Eric Ricard as each fired winning scores of 1-under par 215 in three rounds at The University Club.

LSU won its own fall tournament for the sixth time in eight seasons by 35 strokes as the only team in the field to break par for 54 holes at 11-under par 853. North Texas was runner-up at 24-over par.

With wins in their last two tournament appearances following a season-opening fourth-place finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic, the Tigers will tee off at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate this weekend with a sparkling record of 38-3 in the early stages of the 2016-17 season.

The Lineup

It comes as no surprise that head coach Chuck Winstead will play the same lineup that has won the team title in each of LSU’s last two appearances at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and David Toms Intercollegiate. Gagne will compete for his third-straight individual title along with Burns, Pierce and Ricard along with sophomore standout Nathan Jeansonne.

Gagne is now the nation’s No. 9-ranked collegian thanks to his recent form as he will tee off Friday as LSU’s leading scorer this season with a 69.56 scoring average in nine competitive rounds played this season.

Burns is on the cusp of a top-10 national ranking in this week’s Golfweek/Sagarin Individual Player Rankings as the No. 12-ranked player in the country on the back of three-straight top-10 finishes to start the year. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer behind Gagne with a 69.89 stroke average in his three tournament appearances.

Pierce is ranked No. 57 in Golfweek’s national ranking for individual players with a 71.00 scoring average, while Jeansonne follows at No. 95 and Ricard also cracks the Top 100 of the latest national player rankings at No. 97 according to Golfweek. Ricard averages 71.44 strokes per round this season, while Jeansonne also averages 71.50 strokes per round in his two tournament appearances.

Burns is the top-returning Tiger to the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate after tying for 25th place in last year’s event with a final score of 2-over par 218. Pierce and Ricard also make their return to the event after they tied for 31st place and 60th place, respectively, on the final 2015 leaderboard.

What’s Next?

After wrapping up this year’s Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate on Sunday afternoon, the Tigers will wrap up their 2016 fall season with a trip to Hawaii for an appearance at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic scheduled for a Nov. 4 start at Ka’anapali Golf Club in Lahaina, Maui. The three-day, 54-hole tournament will run Nov. 4-6 in LSU’s final event of the fall season.

LSU will then break before returning to action in its annual spring opener at The Prestige at PGA West where they will compete as the defending team champions in the event being held Feb. 20-22 at the Greg Norman Course at PGA West in La Quinta, California.

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