Men's Golf Continues Spring Season in Palm City
BATON ROUGE – With the 2017 spring season now in full swing, the LSU Men’s Golf team continues its march toward the championship season this week with its annual trip to Palm City, Florida, where the Tigers tee off in Sunday’s opening round at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational being held over three days at Floridian Golf Club.
The championship begins Sunday with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. CT, while Monday’s second round is set to start at 8 a.m. and Tuesday’s final round follows at 7 a.m. with split tee times on both days.
The University of Houston will play host to the event that has attracted an outstanding field of 13 teams once again this season. Floridian Golf Club will play to a par 71 and 7,114 yards for the three-day, 54-hole event. Golfstat will provide live scoring of the event as fans can follow the Tigers throughout the tournament at http://www.golfstat.com.
The Tigers arrive in Palm City as the top team in the field in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index published on March 8 as they are the No. 5-ranked team in the country heading into the weekend.
LSU is among six top-25 and eight top-50 teams among the 13 programs competing at Floridian Golf Club this week as No. 12 Wake Forest, No. 13 Texas, No. 18 Texas A&M, No. 23 Georgia Tech, No. 25 Arkansas, No. 31 Florida State and No. 35 South Carolina are among the title contenders. Rounding out the field with tournament host Houston is Memphis, Minnesota, North Texas and South Florida.
LSU is paired with SEC rivals Arkansas and South Carolina in Sunday’s opening round as they will tee off in threesomes on holes Nos. 4-7 with a shotgun start beginning at 12:30 p.m. CT. Pairings and tee times during the second and third rounds will be determined based on the team standings after each day’s play.
LSU at The Valspar
The Tigers have flirted with the team title in each of their three previous appearances at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational as they followed a fourth-place finish in 2014 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016. They turned in their best performance two seasons ago when they fired a 12-under par 840 as a team before being crowned NCAA Champions later that spring.
Texas is the defending tournament champion after taking home last year’s title with a winning score of 3-over par 855. Georgia Tech was crowned champion in 2014 before Florida State claimed the title in 2015.
Head Coach Chuck Winstead will line up the same starting five that placed third at the rain-shortened General Hackler Championship last weekend as seniors Brandon Pierce and Eric Ricard, sophomores Sam Burns and Luis Gagne and freshman Philip Barbaree look to bring home the team’s fourth title of the season at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational. Sophomore Nathan Jeansonne will compete as an individual.
Pierce was the top Tiger in his spring debut at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach as he tied for fifth place while firing a 2-under par 142 in 36 holes. Pierce has earned four top-10 finishes in his six starts in the 2016-17 season while averaging 71.00 strokes per round to rank second on the team.
Burns picked up his ninth top-10 finish in nine collegiate appearances this season while tying Ricard for ninth place at the General Hackler Championship where they matched one another at even-par 144.
Burns, who was named Thursday to Team USA’s squad competing at the Arnold Palmer Cup this summer, is a cumulative 60-under par in his nine appearances this season and continues to lead the team with a 69.23 scoring average in 26 competitive rounds with 23 of his rounds being played at par or better. As a sophomore, Burns is on pace to smash his 72.42 scoring average from his rookie season in 2015-16 and Brandon Pierce’s single-season scoring record for the Tigers of 71.16 from the 2014-15 campaign.
Ricard earned his second top-10 finish of the season last weekend while dropping his scoring average to 72.83 strokes per round in eight appearances. He makes his ninth start at Floridian Golf Club this week.
Like Burns, Gagne is set to make his 10th appearance this season at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational as he enters the tournament with a 71.15 scoring average and four top-10 finishes to his credit. Barbaree has been a staple in LSU’s lineup this spring with one Top 10 and a 72.75 scoring average in his three previous starts. Jeansonne averages 73.56 strokes per round in six appearances for the Tigers this year.
Last Season at The Valspar
Each of LSU’s veterans returns to the Valspar Collegiate Invitational after helping the Tigers take home a second-place team finish a year ago with a three-day total of 8-over par 860. Texas claimed the team title in 2016 with a winning score of 3-over 855 to finish five clear of LSU in second place and Texas A&M and Oklahoma State in a tie for third place at 19-over 871.
While LSU senior Zach Wright defeated Texas A&M’s Chandler Phillips in a sudden-death playoff for the individual title, Gagne followed his teammate in a tie for third place at 1-under par 212 for the championship.
Burns earned his top individual finish of his freshman season when he tied for 12th place on the final leaderboard at last year’s Valspar Collegiate Invitational, while Pierce followed in a tie for 31st place and Ricard ended in a tie for 63rd place in the event. Burns fired the team’s lowest round of the tournament with a 4-under 67 in the final round.
After teeing it up at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational this week, the Tigers will make their final preparations for the SEC Championships at the Aggie Invitational to be held from April 1-2 at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas. The 2017 SEC Men’s Golf Championships return to Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course as the Tigers will compete April 21-24 in St. Simons Island, Georgia.