Men's Golf Sets Record, Finishes Fourth at PGA West
LA QUINTA, Calif. – The No. 8-ranked LSU Tigers turned in a dazzling display in Wednesday’s final round at the 16th-annual Prestige at PGA West as they lit up the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course with a season-low round of 15-under par 273 and a school-record tournament score of 21-under par 843 to tie for a fourth-place team finish in their 2015 spring opener.
Led by career-low rounds of 7-under 65 by senior Myles Lewis and 6-under 66 by sophomore Eric Ricard, the Tigers powered themselves four spots up the team standings and into a tie for fourth place in the strong 14-team field at PGA West after teeing off Wednesday morning in eighth place at 6-under par for the championship.
It marked LSU’s lowest 54-hole tournament score in relation to par since at least 1985, eclipsing their previous best of 17-under 263 set in a runner-up finish at the 2014 SEC Men’s Golf Championships.
Lewis’ bogey-free round of 65 propelled him into a tie for fourth place on the final leaderboard as he matched his career-low tournament score of 10-under par 206 to claim his first top-five and top-10 finish in 2014-15. Ricard tied for sixth place overall with a career-low score of 9-under 207, while Brandon Pierce cracked the Top 10 in a tie for ninth place with a career-low 7-under 209 in his sophomore debut.
Their efforts helped the Tigers tie for fourth place in the final team standings with 24th-ranked Oklahoma State, which also posted a 21-under 843 in three rounds at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course. No. 15-ranked Arizona State polished off a four-shot victory with a 54-hole score of 31-under 833, while No. 20-ranked Stanford finished runner-up at 27-under 837 and San Diego State followed in third place at 23-under 841.
The Tigers eclipsed their previous season-low round of 10-under 278 in the first round and tournament score of 15-under 849 set in winning the team title at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in September.
While opening up their 2015 spring season with a tie for fourth-place team finish at The Prestige at PGA West, the Tigers have continued the team’s outstanding run in 2014-15 that also boasts back-to-back tournament titles during the fall season at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and David Toms Intercollegiate along with another third-place finish at the prestigious U.S. Collegiate Championship in their fall finale.
“This is a great event for us to play to start our spring season,” said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead following Wednesday’s final round. “We were part of a great field on a great course with good weather, and we got some solid play from our team this week. We were obviously very good today. It’s a solid start for our team this spring. We saw a lot of positive things, and certainly some things that we can and need to improve on. All in all, it was a very good week and positive experience for our team.”
Lewis turned in a flawless bogey-free round of 7-under 65 in which he carded seven birdies to catapult himself 11 spots up the leaderboard and into a tie for fourth place with a final score of 10-under 206 for 54 holes.
He made the turn at 4-under for his final round with birdies at the par-four second, par-three third, par-five seventh and par-four ninth holes for a score of 32 for the front nine. Lewis then dropped to 6-under par with birdies at the par-five 11th and 15th holes before holing out in 3 on the par-four 18th hole to fire a team-leading 7-under 65 on the afternoon.
The New Orleans native eclipsed his previous career-low round of 6-under 66 and matched his career-low tournament score of 10-under 206 that he fired in the final round to wrap up his first collegiate title at the 2014 Louisiana Classics as a junior last spring. His 7-under 65 on Wednesday was also the lowest round by an LSU Tiger since Austin Gutgsell carded a 7-under 65 at the LSU National Invitational on April 1, 2012.
By firing a career-low round of his own at 6-under 66, Ricard broke par for his fifth-straight competitive round with the Tigers in 2014-15 dating back to his appearance at the U.S. Collegiate Championship in the fall.
After making the turn at even-par 36 for his round while carding three birdies and three bogeys on the front nine, Ricard turned up the heat on the back nine as he came in with a 6-under 30 that featured birdies on six holes at Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 18 en route to his career-low round as an LSU Tiger. Ricard smashed his previous low of 4-under 68 in the second round at the U.S. Collegiate Championship, and eclipsed his prior best of 5-under par 211 fired twice during the fall season in a runner-up finish at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and tie for eighth place at the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
Sophomore Brandon Pierce wrapped up an impressive week himself with a final-round 3-under par 69 as he tied for ninth place on the final leaderboard at 7-under 209 in his first action of the 2014-15 season.
After opening the championship with a career-best round of 4-under 68 on Monday, Pierce followed with rounds of even-par 72 on Tuesday and 3-under 69 on Wednesday that featured five birdies and two bogeys to wrap up the competition. Pierce cracked the Top 10 of the leaderboard in a loaded field at The Prestige at PGA West after sitting out the entire 2014 fall season with a back injury.
“This was an outstanding event for Myles, Eric and Brandon,” Winstead added. “Brandon played great in his first event for us this season. Eric had another strong outing. And what a great tournament for Myles to have the kind of play we’ve all known he is capable of throughout his collegiate career with us. We’re very happy and proud of his performance this week.”
Freshman Blake Caldwell posted his second counting score of the week on Wednesday when he carded a season-low 1-over 73 to go along with his 9-over 81 in the first round and 3-over 75 in the second round to take home a tie for 71st place at 13-over 229 for the championship. Senior All-American Ben Taylor posted a 2-over 74 in the final round to tie for 56th place at 7-over 223 in his opener for the 2015 spring season.
“Ben didn’t have his best week this week, but that happens in team golf. We’ll look forward to getting him back on form,” Winstead said of his senior All-American. “I’m also very proud of Blake. He improved each day, and providing two counting scores toward our team total was big for us in finishing strong here in our spring opener.”
With their 2015 spring season opener now in the books, the Tigers will return to action in just under two weeks when they make a return trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, this season to participate at the Querencia Cabo Collegiate being held March 1-3 at Querencia Golf Club. They will be looking to improve upon their eighth-place finish in the 14-team field during the 2014 spring season.
16TH-ANNUAL PRESTIGE AT PGA WEST – FINAL ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 864)
1. Arizona State 279-274-280 – 833 -31; 2. Stanford 288-281-268 – 837 -27; 3. San Diego State 284-280-277 – 841 -23; T4. LSU 284-286-273 – 843 -21; T4. Oklahoma State 280-275-288 – 843 -21; 6. Texas Tech 284-283-279 – 846 -18; 7. Stirling University 276-283-289 – 848 -16; 8. Southern California 283-284-282 – 849 -15; 9. UCLA 284-291-284 – 859 -5; 10. Washington 286-287-291 – 864 E; 11. UC-Davis 289-296-297 – 882 +18; 12. Pepperdine 295-297-293 – 885 +21; 13. Oregon 293-303-290 – 886 +22; 14. Gonzaga 298-296-294 – 888 +24.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 216)
1. Maverick McNealy, Stanford, 68-69-64 – 201 -15; T2. Xander Schauffele, San Diego State, 70-68-67 – 205 -11; T2. Jon Rahm, Arizona State, 66-70-69 – 205 -11; T4. Myles Lewis, LSU, 72-69-65 – 206 -10; T4. Sean Crocker, Southern California, 69-69-68 – 206 -10; T4. Max Rottluff, Arizona State, 70-66-70 – 206 -10; T7. Eric Ricard, LSU, 71-70-66 – 207 -9; T7. Jordan Niebrugge, Oklahoma State, 69-68-70 – 207 -9; 9. Kristoffer Ventura, Oklahoma State, 68-69-71 – 208 -8; T10. Brandon Pierce, LSU, 68-72-69 – 209 -7; T10. Clement Sordet, Texas Tech, 71-72-66 – 209 -7; T10. Hannes Ronneblad, Texas Tech, 70-71-68 – 209 -7; T10. Cormac Sharvin, Stirling University, 69-70-70 – 209 -7.