CHOUDRANT, La. - The 18th-ranked LSU men's golf team matched its performance from Monday's second round with a score of 4-under par 284 in Tuesday's final round to claim a seven-shot victory at the third-annual Argent Financial Classic after firing a 54-hole score of 4-under 860 at Squire Creek Country Club for its second team title in as many weeks this spring.
Senior Austin Gutgsell and sophomore Andrew Presley paced the Tigers with matching rounds of 2-under par 70 in the final round, while sophomore Landon Lyons carded a 1-under par 71 and senior star Sang Yi added a 1-over par 73 toward LSU's final team total for the day en route to the tournament title.
The Tigers finished seven shots clear of the field as the homestanding Louisiana Tech Bulldogs picked up a runner-up finish in the final team standings with a 54-hole score of 3-over par 867.
Defending champion Middle Tennessee State fired the low score for Tuesday's final round at 5-under 283 to finish 10 shots off the pace in sole possession of third place at 6-over 870, while Jacksonville State was fourth place at 16-over 880 and Southern Mississippi followed in fifth place at 18-over 882.
LSU captured its second team title in as many events after claiming its first tournament championship this season at the Louisiana Classics a week ago on March 6 with a record-setting 54-hole score of 17-under par 847 during the event held at Oakbourne Country Club in Lafayette.
"This is a great event to be able to play a quality golf course and provide all nine guys on our roster with a chance to compete and get some more experience," said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. "What is even better is that all nine guys played well this week. It speaks well to the depth we have on our team this year to see that kind of performance. I'm proud of how well we performed throughout the lineup.
"Sang and Austin played very well, which is what we expect from our seniors. We're obviously very happy for Smylie (Kaufman) to finish second for his best tournament as a Tiger. A lot of these guys are just starting out in their careers, and will continue to improve with more experience."
Gutgsell's 2-under 70 in the final round highlighted his best tournament appearance of the season after he tied for fourth place on the final leaderboard with a season-low 54-hole score of 3-under par 213. After he opened the event with a 2-over 74 in the first round, Gutgsell fired a season-best 3-under 69 in the second round before wrapping up the tournament with a 2-under 70 on Tuesday afternoon.
Presley followed his first collegiate victory at the Louisiana Classics last week with a second-straight top-10 finish as he tied for sixth place at the Argent Financial Classic after firing a 2-under par 214 in three rounds, including back-to-back scores of 2-under 70 in the second and third rounds.
Yi has now earned three-straight top-10 finishes to open the 2012 spring season after tying for ninth place this week with his 54-hole score of 1-under par 215. He kicked off the spring season by tying for fourth place at the John Hayt Invitational before earning a career-best second place at the Louisiana Classics.
A native of Carrollton, Texas, Yi is making a strong case for All-SEC and All-America honors this season as he now owns five top-10 finishes in 54-hole tournaments with a team-low 71.9 scoring average.
Lyons carded his lowest round of the tournament with a 1-under par 71 on Tuesday to tie for 26th place on the leaderboard at 5-over 221, while freshman Stewart Jolly followed in 28th place overall after shooting a 3-over 75 in the final round for a three-day total of 6-over 222.
After firing scores of 7-under 65 in the first round and 4-over 76 in the second round to claim a one-stroke lead through 36 holes, sophomore Smylie Kaufman finished off his best tournament as an LSU Tiger with a 1-under par round of 71 on Tuesday to tie for second place on the leaderboard with his three-round total of 4-under 212. It marked his first career Top 10 finish in a 54-hole collegiate event.
While playing as an individual this week at the Argent Financial Classic, Kaufman improved upon his top finish of 20th place from his collegiate debut at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational held Oct. 11-12, 2010.
Hunter Green of Middle Tennessee State fired the low round in Tuesday's finale with a 6-under par 66 for a one-shot victory over Kaufman and teammate Brad Simons with his 54-hole score of 5-under 211.
Although Green found himself outside the Top 10 of the leaderboard after posting scores of 5-over 75 and 2-under 70 in the first 36 holes of the event, he claimed medalist honors at the Argent Financial Classic as he carded nine birdies with three bogeys en route to a 6-under 66 in Tuesday's final round.
Three other Tigers competing as individuals this week also enjoyed the best 54-hole performance for each of their LSU careers as sophomore Franco Castro, freshman Myles Lewis and freshman Curtis Thompson also wrapped up the competition at the Argent Financial Classic on Tuesday.
Thompson fired a 2-under 70 in Tuesday's final round to move himself five spots up the leaderboard for a tie for 13th place as he recorded a 54-hole score of even-par 216 for the week. Lewis followed in a tie for 15th place overall at 1-over 217, including a 1-over 73 in the final round, while Castro carded his even-par 72 on Tuesday for his first career Top 20 finish with a tie for 19th place at 2-over 218.
The Tigers will break for two weeks before returning to action at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate on March 25-27 as they look to defend their team championship in the event being held at Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, S.C. They will then wrap up the regular season the following weekend as they host the LSU National Invitational on March 31-April 1 at the University Club in Baton Rouge.
ARGENT FINANCIAL CLASSIC - FINAL ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 864)
1. LSU 292-284-284 - 860 -4; 2. Louisiana Tech 288-294-285 - 867 +3; 3. Middle Tennessee State 292-295-283 - 870 +6; 4. Jacksonville State 303-289-288 - 880 +16; 5. Southern Mississippi 299-295-288 - 882 +18; 6. Arkansas-Little Rock 297-296-292 - 885 +21; T7. Missouri State 299-299-294 - 892 +28; T7. Texas-San Antonio 301-296-295 - 892 +28; 9. Rice 310-300-299 - 909 +45.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 216)
1. Hunter Green, Middle Tennessee State, 75-70-66 - 211 -5; T2. Smylie Kaufman, LSU, 65-76-71 - 212 -4*; T2. Brad Simons, Middle Tennessee State, 68-74-70 - 212 -4; T4. Austin Gutgsell, LSU, 74-69-70 - 213 -3; T4. Alfred Kerstis, Arkansas-Little Rock, 72-73-68 - 213 -3; T6. Andrew Presley, LSU, 74-70-70 - 214 -2; T6. Cody Blankenship, Louisiana Tech, 71-71-72 - 214 -2; T6. Alfonso Otoya, Jacksonville State, 71-72-71 - 214 -2; T9. Sang Yi, LSU, 70-72-73 - 215 -1; T9. Sam Forgan, Louisiana Tech, 71-74-70 - 215 -1; T9. Jordan McLaurin, Missouri State, 72-72-71 - 215 -1; T9. Cody Santone, Louisiana Tech, 72-73-70 - 215 -1.
T2. Smylie Kaufman, 65-76-71 - 212 -4*
T4. Austin Gutgsell, 74-69-70 - 213 -3
T6. Andrew Presley, 74-70-70 - 214 -2
T9. Sang Yi, 70-72-73 - 215 -1
T13. Curtis Thompson, 75-71-70 - 216 E*
T15. Myles Lewis, 74-70-73 - 217 +1*
T19. Franco Castro, 74-72-72 - 218 +2*
T26. Landon Lyons, 74-76-71 - 221 +5
28. Stewart Jolly, 74-73-75 - 222 +6
* - Indicates player competing as an individual.