Champs Are Back: Golf Returns to NCAA Match Play

By Tiger Rag News Services

EUGENE, Ore. – Battling the toughest winds of the competition, LSU posted a strong 1-over par score over the final nine holes Monday to ensure its place in the Match Play 8 that will decide an NCAA men’s golf champion over the next two days at the Eugene Country Club.

LSU, the defending national champions, finished the 72 holes at 16-over par 1,136-stroke total with consistent rounds of 286-282-283-285. The Tigers certainly showed their mettle in the final couple of hours of the round on the more difficult nine holes of the par 70, 7,014-yard tree-lined layout.

LSU finished third in the stroke-play portion of the championship, just two shots behind 72-hole leader and No. 1 seed for match play, Texas, which posted 14-over 1,134. Second was Illinois at 15-over 1,135. The tight competition saw a tie for fourth behind LSU at 17-over par (Southern California and Vanderbilt). Oregon was sixth at 19-over 1,139 and then the final two advancers to match play were South Carolina, up five spots at 22-over, and Oklahoma, up six spots, in eighth at 24-over par.

In Tuesday’s quarterfinal, LSU will meet the host Oregon Ducks beginning on the 10th tee at 9 a.m. CT. Golf Channel live television coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. CT.

#3 LSU vs. #6 Oregon

Quarterfinal Pairings:
1. Brandon Pierce (LSU) vs. Zach Foushee (OU), 9 a.m. CT
2. Sam Burns (LSU) vs. Sulman Raza (ORE), 9:10 a.m. CT
3. Zach Wright (LSU) vs. Edwin Yi (ORE), 9:20 a.m. CT
4. Luis Gagne (LSU) vs. Thomas Lim (ORE), 9:30 a.m. CT
5. Eric Ricard (LSU) vs. Aaron Wise (ORE), 9:40 a.m. CT

The semifinal round will take place at 3:30 p.m. CT Tuesday with coverage on Golf Channel in prime time. The final match is Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. CT.

LSU joins Illinois as the only teams to make the match play quarterfinals for the third-straight year. LSU is the fourth team since the format went to match play in 2009 to make it three-straight years. Twice in seven years there has been repeat winners for the NCAA Championships.

In the first three rounds, the Tigers battled the par-3 11th, giving up several shots. In good team-golf fashion — in the play-five, count-four format — LSU was able to get the birdies, especially on the front nine, that kept them in the top five when the cut was made from 30 to 15 teams after Sunday’s play.

Monday, LSU was turning the live scoring into a colorful collage of red for birdies and green for bogies with an unfortunate black mark for a triple bogey. But the color display was the Tigers being able to show good team recovery as three players posted even par nines and LSU turned at just plus-3 and still fluctuating between fifth and sixth.

Meanwhile, Illinois was making a big run and Oklahoma was going as deep as 9-under par at one point, making the tougher back nine a make-or-break test for the defenders.

LSU showed the defending champs weren’t going anywhere. Pars were great scores in the high wings, and LSU was posting them up and down the lineup. LSU’s four counting scores had four birdies, just five bogies and 27 pars coming home.

Most impressive was Eric Ricard who took a 40 with a triple on the front side and posted 2-under on the back to come home on 72. Brandon Pierce had eight pars and one bogey in his 1-under 69, while freshman Luis Gagne had +1 (71) and Sam Burns +3 (73).

Gagne (70-70-73-71) and Burns (74-68-69-73) both just missed top-10 finishes in their first NCAA Championship with 4-over 284, finishing tied for 13th. Ricard consistently carded 71-71-72-72 for 6-over 216 and a tie for 22nd finish. Brandon Pierce finished up at 7-over 217 (73-76-69-69, T26). Zach Wright posted 13-over 223.

For Wright, Ricard and Pierce, the match play experience at NCAA’s will not be a new one having played on last year’s national championship team. Wright was 3-0 last year and Ricard and Pierce were 2-0-1 on LSU’s way to the title.

For updates on LSU golf follow @LSUMensGolf on Twitter for results as they happen at the Eugene Country Club on Wednesday.

NCAA Match Play 8 Pairings
9 a.m. CT – #2 Illinois v. #7 South Carolina (1st tee)
9 a.m. CT – #3 LSU v. #6 Oregon (10th tee)
9:50 a.m. CT – #1 Texas v. #8 Oklahoma (1st tee)
9:50 a.m. CT – #4 USC v. #5 Vanderbilt (10th tee)
3:30 p.m. CT – #2/#7 Winner v. #3/#6 Winner
4:20 p.m. CT – #1/#8 Winner v. #4/#5 Winner
Wednesday, June 1
Championship Match
4:10 p.m. CT – Semifinal Winners

NCAA Championships (Top 8 advance to Match Play)
Monday, May 30
Eugene, Ore.
Eugene County Club
Stroke Play Round 4 Results
Team, Score, To Par
1. Texas, 1134, +14
2. Illinois, 1135, +15
3. LSU, 1136, +16
t4. USC, 1137, +17
t4. Vanderbilt, 1137, +17
6. Oregon, 1139, +19
7. South Carolina, 1142, +22
8. Oklahoma, 1144, +24

9. Arizona St., 1148, +28
t10. Oklahoma St., 1150, +30
t10. California, 1150, +30
12. Arkansas, 1153, +33
13. Kentucky, 1157, +37
14. Louisville, 1158, +38
15. Florida, 1163, +43
(field cut from 30 to 15 teams after 54 holes)

t16. TCU, +27, 867
t16. Clemson, +27, 867
t16. Georgia, +27, 867
19. Houston, +28, 868
20. Florida State, +28, 868
21. Auburn, +28, 868
22. Virginia, +29, 869
23. Wake Forest, +31, 871
24. Alabama, +31, 871
25. San Diego State, +32, 872
26. South Florida, +36, 876
27. Baylor, +40, 880
28. Stanford, +44, 884
29. Purdue, +58, 898
30. UAB, +62, 902
Individual Scores (Top 5)
1. Aaron Wise, Oregon 275 -5
2. Rico Hoey, Southern Carolina 277 -3
t3. Matthias Schwab, Vanderbilt 279 -1
t3. Jon Rahm, Arizona State 279 -1
5. Beau Hossier, Texas 280 E
LSU Scores
t13. Sam Burns 74 68 69 73 – 284 +4
t13. Luis Gagne 70 70 73 71 – 284 +4
t22. Eric Ricard 71 71 72 72 — 286 +6
t26. Brandon Pierce 73 76 69 69 – 287 +7
t60. Zach Wright 72 73 73 75 — 293 +13

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