|High School:||Olympia HS|
Assistant Coach – Sixth Season
2017 Jan Strickland Award Finalist
2016 Jan Strickland Award Finalist
2012 Dave Williams Award
2012 Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year
2012 Eaton Golf Pride South Region Coach of the Year
The 2014-15 season is one for the ages in the history of the LSU Men’s Golf program as the Tigers staked their claim as the premier program in college golf with a 4-1 win over the USC Trojans in the NCAA Championship Match to cap their run to the national title at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. It was the program’s fifth national championship all-time, and first in 60 years after they were also crowned champions in 1940, 1942, 1947 and 1955.
The Tigers had a taste of the title a season before in 2014 while reaching the Final Four of match play for the first time. They finished the job the following year when five All-Americans took down SEC rivals Vanderbilt and Georgia in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds before taming the Trojans in the final in one of the most comprehensive victories in the NCAA Championship Match.
Seniors Stewart Jolly and Ben Taylor, both All-Americans following LSU’s Final Four run in 2014, joined junior Zach Wright and sophomores Brandon Pierce and Eric Ricard as one of the most celebrated teams in the history of LSU Athletics while winning the school’s 47th NCAA team championship.
The Tigers earned the No. 7 seed in match play after finishing in seventh place in the stroke play qualifying with their score of 17-over par in four rounds at Concession Golf Club.
Pierce and Wright both capped an All-American 2015 spring season by tying for 11th place on the NCAA Championship leaderboard with even-par scores of 288 to lead the Tigers back into match play for the second year in a row after they officially tied for third place nationally in 2014.
Pierce, who broke David Toms’ single-season scoring record of 71.26 from 1988-89 with a career best 71.16 as the team’s leading scorer in 2014-15, was named a Golfweek Third-Team All-American and PING Honorable Mention All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America following his breakout sophomore season. Wright and Ricard scored PING Honorable Mention All-American accolades of their own in the wake of LSU’s national championship victory.
The Tigers were also crowned SEC Champions for the first time in 28 years and the 16th time in their history when they scored a three-stroke victory over Vanderbilt and South Carolina at the 2015 SEC Championships. A season after finishing second to Alabama, the Tigers took down the Tide with a score of 13-under par 827 to win their first conference title since the spring of 1987.
Instrumental in LSU’s return to national prominence has been former LSU Tiger standout Garrett Runion, who enters his sixth season back with the program as a member of head coach Chuck Winstead’s staff after returning to his alma-mater prior to the 2012-13 season.
Winstead announced on June 22, 2012, that Runion would return to LSU as an assistant coach for the program after he guided the Sharks of Nova Southeastern University to the NCAA Division II national championship in his one and only season as head coach in 2011-12. He has proven to be one of the top assistants in all of college golf in his time back in Baton Rouge as a back-to-back finalist for the Jan Strickland Award honoring the NCAA’s top assistant coach in 2016 and 2017.
Runion’s first season back in Baton Rouge proved to be another strong campaign for the Tigers as they again qualified for the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. LSU tied for 23rd place at the NCAA Championship held at Atlanta’s Capital City Club that year.
While Runion has been part of five-straight teams to tee it up at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, LSU has cracked the Top 10 nationally in each of the last four seasons to mark only the third time in the program’s history the Tigers have enjoyed such an NCAA run. They also secured top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships from 1939-43 and 1952-56.
Sam Burns and Luis Gagne are the latest to write their chapters in LSU’s history books as they led the Tigers to a ninth-place team finish at the NCAA Championships this past season in 2017. LSU was just one spot short of advancing to NCAA match play for the fourth-straight season as they capped their campaign with a school record six tournament titles at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and David Toms Intercollegiate in the 2016 fall season and The Prestige at PGA West, Aggie Invitational, Tiger Classic and NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in the 2017 spring season.
The Tigers were crowned regional champions for the first time in their history while defeating the likes of 2016 NCAA Champion and 2017 NCAA runner-up Oregon and ACC Champion Duke to earn an impressive seventh trip back to the NCAA Championships in the past eight seasons.
Burns proved to be the catalyst in LSU’s 2016-17 season as he became the first Tiger in history to be named the National Player of the Year when he received the NCAA Division I Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year award from the Golf Coaches Association of America. He was also named a PING First-Team All-American and the SEC Player of the Year as the top player in college golf as a sophomore.
Burns’ historic season included four tournament titles, 14 top-10 finishes and a new single-season scoring record at LSU as his 70.05 scoring average smashed Pierce’s 71.16 from two years before.
Gagne capped an outstanding sophomore season of his own as a PING Honorable Mention All-American for the second time in his collegiate career while ending the season as the No. 25-ranked player nationally in the final Golfweek individual rankings. His campaign included two wins and seven top-10 individual finishes along with a career-low scoring average of 71.35 strokes per round.
In all, nine Tigers have earned 12 All-American and 10 All-SEC selections in the five seasons since Runion rejoined the program as an assistant coach.
Runion returned to his alma mater following a 2011-12 season in which he led Nova Southeastern to the NCAA Division II title with a dominant 5-0 win over Chico State University in the national championship match held May 19, 2012, at Cardinal Club Golf Course in Simpsonville, Kentucky.
Their run to the national championship highlighted a historic season for the Nova Southeastern Sharks as they also won the Sunshine State Conference championship during the 2012 spring season. Runion was recognized as the recipient of the Dave Williams Award as the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year, as well as earning Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year and Eaton Golf Pride South Region Coach of the Year awards for the 2011-12 season.
Runion actually served two seasons at Nova Southeastern as the team also captured the SCC title during a strong 2010-11 campaign in which he served as the program’s assistant head coach.
A native of Orlando, Florida, Runion was a three-year letterwinner during his collegiate career with the Tigers as he called Baton Rouge home in four seasons from 2003-08. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and three-time SEC Community Service Team selection, Runion graduated from LSU in the May 2008 with his Bachelor of Arts & Science degree in general studies. He also serves as the Assistant Coach Representative for NCAA Division I on the National Golf Coaches Association of America’s National Advisory Board.
Runion and his wife, Meghan, have one son, Reid Shaffer Runion, aka “Rocket,” who was born on March 20, 2015.