BATON ROUGE - Members of the 18th-ranked LSU men's golf program are set to wrap up the 2012 regular season this weekend as they welcome 11 teams from across the country to the University Club for one of the squad's proud traditions with the playing of the 34th LSU National Invitational.
The Tigers are the defending champions at the LSU National Invitational after claiming the team crown in 2011 by a single stroke over Chattanooga with their winning 54-hole team score of 22-over par 886 in the first collegiate event held at the newly-renovated University Club.
LSU added to its impressive haul at the LSU National Invitational with its 11th team championship during the event's 33-year history. Houston follows with nine team titles in tournament history.
The 2011 season marked the return of the LSU National Invitational for the first time in 19 seasons, when the Tigers played host to the tournament for 32-straight years from 1961-92 with Sherwood Country Club in Baton Rouge serving as the primary host for the event.
The two-day, 54-hole championship kicks off on Saturday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. CDT as the teams are set to play two rounds on the opening day of competition. Sunday's final round is also set to start with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. The course will play to a par 72 and 7,346 yards for the weekend.
Live scoring for each round of this year's LSU National Invitational will be provided by Golfstat, and can be found online by logging on to its official website at www.golfstat.com.
"The guys always look forward to playing at home. It's fun for them to play in front of friends and family right here at the University Club," said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. "With seven freshmen and sophomores on our team, we've taken the approach of getting our guys as many reps as possible. We have another opportunity for all nine of our guys to play again this weekend."
The Tigers are poised to defend their team title at the LSU National Invitational as the top-ranked team in the 12-team field as they are ranked as high as No. 18 in the NCAA for the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. LSU is also ranked No. 24 nationally in the latest Golfstat Top 25.
The Tigers have already captured a pair of team titles during the 2012 spring season at both the Louisiana Classics on March 5-6 and the Argent Financial Classic on March 11-13.
The field at the LSU National Invitational also features three other teams ranked among the Top 50 teams in the country in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, including No. 30 Chattanooga, No. 33 Iowa and No. 47 Purdue. Rounding out the 12-team field this weekend are the likes of Boston College, Furman, Iowa State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Michigan, Minnesota and UNC-Wilmington.
While the homestanding Tigers are the defending team champions this week, Chattanooga senior Stephan Jaeger returns to defend his individual crown when he shot rounds of 2-under 70, 5-under 67 and even-par 72 en route to a dominating seven-stroke victory with a 54-hole score of 7-under 209 a season ago.
Both Yi and Presley continued impressive streaks while earning top-10 finishes at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate earlier this week. Yi tied for fifth place on the leaderboard for his fourth-straight top-10 in four starts this spring, while Presley tied for ninth place overall for his third-straight top-10 finish with the spring season as each has emerged as a leader of this year's squad.
Yi is making a strong case for All-America consideration with his performance as a senior as he has taken four top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes in LSU's eight 54-hole tournaments in 2011-12. He is LSU's leading scorer with an impressive 71.8 scoring average in 25 rounds played this season.
Presley is also a strong contender for All-SEC and All-America honors while posting a career-low scoring average of 72.6 strokes per round in his 25 rounds for the Tigers on the season. Presley owns one top-five finish and three top-10 finishes in his eight starts on his sophomore campaign.
The two Texans are among the top-ranked collegiate golfers this season as Yi is No. 34 and Presley is No. 35 in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Individual Player Rankings released March 25.
"We've gotten really strong consistent play week in and week out from Sang and Andrew this spring, and it's been good for our team to get Austin in the lineup," Winstead said. "We still don't have a clear fourth and fifth player in the team lineup. While each of the other guys have played well at times this year, we're still looking for more consistency to be the type of team we can and want to be.
"We're headed toward April, and with all of the starts our guys have earned this year, it's time for them to step up. We've got some very talented players. I'm sure we'll see somebody show they can be that guy."
The Tigers are paired with Chattanooga and Iowa on the first day of action and will tee off on holes No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 with Saturday's shotgun start at 8 a.m. CDT. Pairings for Sunday's final round will not be set until the conclusion of Saturday's opening 36 holes at the University Club.