Men's Golf Sweeps Tiger Classic Event
BATON ROUGE – Fourth-ranked LSU swept its own Tiger Classic on Thursday afternoon as the Tigers scored a 15-shot victory in their seven-team field with a winning 6-over par 582 and sophomore Nathan Jeansonne won medalist honors with a brilliant 9-under par 135 in the 36-hole event held at the University Club.
It proved the perfect tune-up for next week’s SEC Championships as the Tigers picked up their fifth tournament win of the season and second on the spin after claiming the Aggie Invitational title on April 2.
No. 27-ranked Arkansas tied Southeastern Louisiana for second place with a final score of 21-over par 597 in two rounds, while No. 18-ranked Texas A&M followed in fourth place at 26-over 602 and McNeese State was fifth overall with a final score of 37-over 613 on the day. Rounding out the field were in-state schools New Orleans in sixth place and Centenary in seventh place.
While the Tigers captured their fifth tournament title this season, Jeansonne was crowned a tournament champion for the first time in his collegiate career as he followed a 5-under 67 in the morning with a 4-under par 68 in the afternoon to finish three shots clear of sophomore teammate Luis Gagne in second place. Gagne fired the low round of the day with a 6-under 66 in the afternoon for a 36-hole score of 6-under 138.
Also cracking the Top 10 of the final leaderboard for the Tigers was senior Brandon Pierce in fifth place at 1-under 143, including a 4-under 68 in the second round, and sophomore Sam Burns in a fifth-place tie overall at 4-over 148 with back-to-back rounds of 2-over 74 for the tournament.
With the University Club playing a lengthy 7,419 yards, Jeansonne was nearly flawless on a difficult day for scoring as he led just five players breaking par for the day in the Tiger Classic 45-man field.
The sophomore from Shreveport carded two eagles and eight birdies along with just one bogey and one double bogey over his 36 holes to take the individual title at 9-under par for the tournament. Jeansonne actually eagled the par-five sixth hole in both rounds. He fired the second-lowest round of the day with a 5-under 67 in the morning despite a double bogey at the par-three 16th. Jeansonne followed that setback with birdies in each of the last two holes on the back nine at the par-five 17th and par-four 18th.
Jeansonne picked up his second top-10 finish of the 2016-17 season after he tied for seventh place at the David Toms Intercollegiate also held at the University Club during the fall season. By firing 9-under par Thursday afternoon, he slashed his scoring average to 73.08 strokes per round this season.
Gagne Goes Off
After opening the tournament with an even-par round of 72 to tie for seventh place in the morning, Gagne played a bogey-free round of 6-under 66 in the afternoon to climb into second place on the final leaderboard and finish the day three shots behind Jeansonne at 6-under par for the championship. That secured a third top-five and fifth top-10 finish of Gagne’s sophomore season.
While teeing off from hole No. 17 in Thursday’s shotgun start, Gagne birdied the par-five 17th right out of the gate in his second round and never looked back as he also made birdie at Nos. 7, 9, 11, 12 and 15. With his 6-under 66, Gagne matched his lowest round in relation to par this season after twice posting a 6-under 65 at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in the fall.
Pierce shot up the leaderboard in the closing stages of his second round as he ended with four-straight birdies at the par-four 15th, par-three 16th, par-five 17th and par-four 18th for the second-lowest counting score for the round at 4-under 68. He capped his afternoon by draining a 35-foot birdie putt at the 18th green to seal a fifth-place individual finish while breaking par at 1-under par for the tournament.
Pierce, who opened with a 3-over 75 in the morning round, turned at 3-under par in the afternoon before falling back to even-par with a bogey at the par-four 10th and double bogey at the par-five 11th. He closed quite strongly to match his lowest round in relation to par in more than five months when he last fired a 4-under 67 in the final round at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic in LSU’s fall finale.
Top 20 Tigers
Four other Tigers claimed top-20 finishes at the Tiger Classic as senior Rhyne Jones placed 11th overall at 6-over 150, including a 1-under 71 in the first round; freshman Carter Toms tied for 14th place at 8-over 152; senior Eric Ricard tied for 15th place at 9-over par 153; and junior Blake Caldwell tied for 18th place at 10-over 154, including his own 1-under 71 in the first round.
Rounding out the team in Thursday’s event was freshman Philip Barbaree in a tie for 23rd place at 12-over par 156 and freshman Drew Gonzales in a tie for 37th place at 29-over par 173 through two rounds.
With the regular season now in the books, the Tigers are ready to kick off the championship season as the SEC Men’s Golf Championships return to Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Georgia, as the event is scheduled for April 21-24. Teams will play 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying on the first two days before the field is cut to an eight-team match-play tournament for the SEC Championship.
The Tigers then play host to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at the University Club from May 15-17 as five teams with five teams will earn the right to tee it up at the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships.
TIGER CLASSIC – FINAL RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 576)
1. LSU 295-287 – 582 +6; T2. Arkansas 299-298 – 597 +21; T2. Southeastern Louisiana 293-304 – 597 +21; 4. Texas A&M 303-299 – 602 +26; 5. McNeese State 306-307 – 613 +37; 6. New Orleans 326-332 – 658 +82; 7. Centenary 354-364 – 718 +142.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 144)
1. Nathan Jeansonne, LSU, 67-68 – 135 -9*; 2. Luis Gagne, LSU, 72-66 – 138 -6; 3. Cameron Champ, Texas A&M, 69-71 – 140 -4; 4. Luis Garza, Arkansas, 70-71 – 141 -3; 5. Brandon Pierce, LSU, 75-68 – 143 -1; 6. James Anstiss, Southeastern Louisiana, 70-74 – 144 E; 7. William Meyers, Southeastern Louisiana, 75-70 – 145 +1; T8. Sam Burns, LSU, 74-74 – 148 +4; T8. Alvaro Ortiz, Arkansas, 74-74 – 148 +4; T8. Daniel O’Loughlin, McNeese State, 76-72 – 144 +4.
1. Nathan Jeansonne, 67-68 – 135 -9*
2. Luis Gagne, 72-66 – 138 -6
5. Brandon Pierce, 75-68 – 143 -1
T8. Sam Burns, 74-74 – 148 +4
11. Rhyne Jones, 71-79 – 150 +6*
14. Carter Toms, 72-80 – 152 +8*
T15. Eric Ricard, 74-79 – 153 +9
T18. Blake Caldwell, 71-83 – 154 +10*
T23. Philip Barbaree, 75-81 – 156 +12
T37. Drew Gonzales, 87-86 – 173 +29*
* - Indicates player competing as an individual.