BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers are set to defend their national championship later this month with a sixth appearance at the NCAA Championships in seven seasons after tying for third place in the team standings at the NCAA Franklin Regional with a final score of 25-under par 839 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
The Tigers teed off in Wednesday’s final round in third place in the standings after 36 holes, and remained in a tie for third at the end of the day after posting a team score of 9-under 279 in the final round.
The three returning members of the team’s national championship lineup all broke par in the final round to lead the Tigers back to the NCAA Championships. Senior Zach Wright led the way with a brilliant final round of 5-under par 67, while junior All-American Eric Ricard fired a 3-under 69 to finish in the Top 10 of the final leaderboard and fellow junior All-American Brandon Pierce added a 1-under 71 on the day.
Freshman Sam Burns posted the fourth counting score in the lineup with an even-par round of 72, while rookie Luis Gagne nearly matched his freshman teammate with a 1-over 73 to end his first career regional.
Their performance has the Tigers back in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships for the sixth time in seven seasons as they head to Eugene (Ore.) Country Club in two weeks as the defending NCAA Champions from their 4-1 win over the USC Trojans in the NCAA Championship Match last June. They also advanced to the NCAA Semifinals of match play two seasons ago in 2014.
The top-five teams at the NCAA Franklin Regional all punched their ticket to the NCAA Championships being held May 27-June 1, led by the No. 1-seeded and No. 2-ranked Texas Longhorns at 45-under par 819 in three rounds played at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. No. 2-seeded and No. 9-ranked Vanderbilt followed in second place at 34-under par 830, while No. 6 seed Houston tied LSU for third place at 25-under 839 and No. 5 seed Virginia rounded out the Top 5 qualifiers in fifth place at 22-under 842.
After teeing off Wednesday in a tie for 39th place at 1-over par through the first two rounds, Wright broke par for the tournament thanks to his team-low 5-under 67 in the final round to move into a tie for 22nd place on the final leaderboard with a final score of 4-under par 212. It marked Wright’s best finish in four regional appearances for the Tigers, eclipsing his tie for 23rd place at the NCAA Columbia (Mo.) Regional in 2014.
Wright traded shots with a birdie at the par-four second and a bogey at the par-five fourth before reeling off five birdies at the par-four sixth, par-four eighth, par-four 10th, par-four 15th and par-five 18th holes.
Ricard was the top finishing Tiger at the NCAA Franklin Regional as he followed his career-low 7-under 65 in Tuesday’s second round with a 3-under 69 in Wednesday’s final round to tie for ninth place overall with a final score of 8-under par 208. A double bogey at the par-four 13th was Ricard’s only misstep in the round as he also carded five birdies at Nos. 4, 8, 10, 14 and 18 to follow Wright with a 3-under 69.
Burns finished just one shot outside the Top 10 of the leaderboard in his first NCAA Regional start for the Tigers as he tied for 14th place with a final score of 7-under par 209 for the week. Highlighting Burns’ appearance at the Vanderbilt Legends Club was highlighted by a career-low round of 5-under 67 on Tuesday after opening with a 2-under 70 in Monday’s first round.
Gagne eagled the 54th and final hole of the tournament at the par-five 18th hole to finish with a 1-over 73 to tie for 39th place overall at even-par 216. Pierce tied for 45th place overall at 1-over 217 in three rounds.
Crowned the NCAA Franklin Regional’s individual champion was Michael Perras of Houston, who won with a score 6-under par 66 in the final round and 54-hole score of 16-under 200 for the tournament. Second round co-leaders Doug Ghim of Texas and Ryan Cole of James Madison finished two shots back in a tie for second place at 14-under 202.
NCAA FRANKLIN REGIONAL – FINAL ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 864)
1. Texas 268-271-280 – 819 -45; 2. Vanderbilt 285-277-268 – 830 -34; T3. LSU 288-272-279 – 839 -25; T3. Houston 293-274-272 – 839 -25; 5. Virginia 285-271-286 – 842 -22; 6. Washington 283-280-280 – 843 -21; 7. Kennesaw State 283-279-285 – 847 -17; 8. East Carolina 279-289-281 – 849 -15; 9. Pepperdine 296-286-281 – 863 -1; 10. Michigan 303-284-285 – 872 +8; 11. Troy 305-283-288 – 876 +12; 12. Georgetown 295-289-293 – 877 +13; 13. UT-Martin 293-294-291 – 878 +14.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 216)
1. Michael Perras, Houston, 65-69-66 – 200 -16; T2. Doug Ghim, Texas, 64-69-69 – 202 -14; T2. Ryan Cole, James Madison, 69-64-69 – 202 -14; 4. Theo Humphrey, Vanderbilt, 70-66-69 – 205 -11; 5. Carl Yuan, Washington, 65-69-72 – 206 -10; T6. Jimmy Stranger, Virginia, 68-68-71 – 207 -9; T6. Gavin Hall, Texas, 70-69-68 – 207 -9; T6. Taylor Funk, Texas, 65-69-73 – 207 -9; T9. Eric Ricard, LSU, 74-65-69 – 208 -8; ;T9. Beau Hossler, Texas, 73-64-71 – 208 -8; T9. Patrick Martin, Vanderbilt, 70-71-67 – 208 -8; T9. Will Gordon, Vanderbilt, 72-70-66 – 208 -8; T9. Ryan Cornfield, USC-Upstate, 73-70-65 – 208 -8.