Men's Golf Captures Title at Gopher Invitational

by Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
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Men's Golf Captures Title at Gopher Invitational

WAYZATA, Minn. – The 15th-ranked LSU men’s golf team opened up the 2010-11 season in impressive fashion on Monday afternoon by capturing the team championship at the sixth-annual Gopher Invitational by 11 shots with a 54-hole team score of 5-over par 869 at Spring Hill Golf Club.

Despite wrapping up Sunday’s opening round in ninth place overall with a 13-over 301, the Tigers proved to be the most dominant team in the field over the final 36 holes as they fired consecutive rounds of 7-under 281 in the second round Sunday and 1-under 287 in the final round on Monday at the par-72 layout.

In fact, LSU’s team scores in the second and third rounds were the only team scores under par throughout the two-day, 54-hole event hosted again this year by the University of Minnesota.

LSU cruised to victory by 11 strokes over No. 29-ranked and second-place Kent State and 30 strokes over No. 28-ranked and third-place Arkansas for its seventh tournament championship since opening the 2008-09 season with a win at the fourth-annual Gopher Invitational in its first ever appearance in the event.

And like their victory at the Gopher Invitational two years ago, three Tigers finished among the Top 10 of the final leaderboard with their performance, while all five Tigers placed among the Top 21 overall.

“We’re certainly happy to come away with a win in our season opener. I’m proud of the guys for the way they competed,” said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. “We were able to mix and match good scores and come out with a pretty good win. But as we go forward, we’re going to need some more consistent play in the lineup. We’re talented enough to be more consistent as a team in each round.”

Senior standout Clayton Rotz set the course on fire during Monday’s final round as he fired his best round in two seasons with a 6-under par 66 en route to his best tournament finish as an LSU Tiger as he earned a tie for third place on the final leaderboard with a 54-hole score of 1-under 215.

Rotz was nearly flawless during his final round as he carded seven birdies and just one bogey for 18 holes for the lowest individual score of the tournament. Rotz fired out of the gate by making birdie on three of his first five holes on Monday as he dropped to red figures on the par-four first, par-five third and par-five fifth holes to make the turn at 3-under. He then dropped to 7-under on the day with birdies at the par-three 11th, par-four 14th, par-five 16th and par-three 17th holes before making bogey on the par-four 18th hole.

Rotz was followed by fellow Tiger seniors Ken Looper and John Peterson, who matched one another with 54-hole scores of 4-over par 220 to finish the championship in a tie for seventh place overall.

Peterson, a two-time All-American during his LSU career, fired back-to-back scores of 1-under 71 for the second and third rounds after opening with a 6-over 78. Looper wrapped up the event with a 5-over 77 for the final round after opening with scores of even-par 72 and 1-under 71 on Sunday.

Junior Sang Yi nearly joined his teammates in the Top 10 of the final leaderboard as he ended the tourney in a tie for 13th place with a three-round total of 5-over 221, including a tournament-best 4-under 68 in the second round. Fellow junior Austin Gutgsell added a 1-over 73 toward LSU’s team score in the last round as he tied for 21st place individually with a cumulative score of 9-over 225.

“After the first round, I challenged John Peterson and Clayton Rotz to step it up and play like they should play,” Winstead said. “The play from the other three was fine. We can’t be a very good team if they shoot 78s. That was the difference from the first round to the second and third rounds. They were outstanding.”

After grabbing a four-shot lead following rounds of 4-under 68 and 5-under 67 on Sunday, Kent State star John Hahn left no doubt of who would be crowned this year’s individual champion as he posted a 1-under 71 in Monday’s final round to claim medalist honors by six shots over Arkansas’ Sebastian Cappelen.

The Tigers will return to action on month from now when they head back to Big 10 country on Oct. 11-12 to compete in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational being held at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.

GOPHER INVITATIONAL – FINAL ROUND RESULTS

TEAM SCORES (Par 864)
1. LSU 301-281-287 – 869 +5; 2. Kent State 291-293-296 – 880 +16; 3. Arkansas 297-291-301 – 889 +25; 4. Charlotte 294-294-302 – 890 +26; 5. Lamar 300-294-298 – 892 +28; 6. Iowa 293-302-305 – 900 +36; 7. Minnesota 292-300-310 – 902 +38; 8. UNC-Greensboro 292-299-313 – 904 +40; 9. SMU 292-304-314 – 910 +46; T10. Marquette 310-315-310 – 935 +71; T10. 304-308-323 – 935 +71.

TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 216)
1. John Hahn, Kent State, 68-67-71 – 206 -10; 2. Sebastian Cappelen, Arkansas, 73-67-72 – 212 -4; T3. Clayton Rotz, LSU, 78-71-66 – 215 -1; T3. Kevin Hesbois, Lamar, 72-70-73 – 215 -1; 5. Kelly Kraft, SMU, 71-68-77 – 216 E; 6. Paul Ferrier, Charlotte, 72-70-76 – 218 +2; T7. Ken Looper, LSU, 72-71-77 – 220 +4; T7. John Peterson, LSU, 78-71-71 – 220 +4; T7. Chris Brant, Iowa, 69-75-76 – 220 +4; T7. Colin Chapman, UNC-Greensboro, 73-71-76 – 220 +4; T7. MJ Daffue, Lamar, 75-75-70 – 220 +4; T7. Vince India, Iowa, 72-78-70 – 220 +4.

LSU SCORES
T3. Clayton Rotz, 78-71-66 – 215 -1
T7. Ken Looper, 72-71-77 – 220 +4
T7. John Peterson, 78-71-71 – 220 +4
T13. Sang Yi, 74-68-79 – 221 +5
T21. Austin Gutgsell, 77-75-73 – 225 +9