Gagne Advances to U.S. Amateur Quarterfinals

by Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
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Gagne Advances to U.S. Amateur Quarterfinals

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – With a 3-and-2 win over Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer in the morning and a 3-and-1 win over Virginia’s Jimmy Stanger in the afternoon, LSU’s sophomore All-American Luis Gagne advanced to the match play quarterfinals at the 116th United States Amateur Championship on Thursday at Oakland Hills Country Club.

Gagne wasn’t even in the U.S. Amateur field until Friday of last week as the first alternate from the sectional qualifier at Willowbend Golf Club in Wichita, Kansas. He took the spot left open for the low amateur for the U.S. Senior Open as Chip Lutz, the only amateur to make the cut, was already exempt to compete in the event this week.

That turn of events has certainly paid off for LSU’s 2016 PING Honorable Mention All-American as he took two steps toward the Havemeyer Trophy with wins in the Round of 32 and Sweet 16 on Thursday.

Gagne was as much as 5-up in his morning match with Nimmer as he went 1-up with a birdie at the par-four fifth and 2-up with a par at the par-four seventh. He then reeled off three-straight wins with a pair of birdies at the par-three ninth and par-four 10th and a par at the par-four 11th. Despite Nimmer cutting into the deficit with wins at Nos. 13 and 14, they halved the final two holes with Gagne advancing, 3-and-2.

Gagne turned a 2-down deficit on the front nine into a 2-up advantage on the back nine in his afternoon match with Stanger before ultimately closing out the match, 3-and-1, and advancing to Friday’s quarterfinals.

The Orlando, Florida, native grabbed his first 1-up lead in the match after winning three-straight holes at Nos. 9-11 to erase a 2-down deficit through eight holes. Gagne and Stanger traded the 14th and 15th holes before Gagne advanced with a two-putt bogey at the 16th to go 2-up with two holes to play and a birdie at the 211-yard, par-three 17th for a 3-and-1 win.

Gagne’s victory sets up a tasty quarterfinal match with USC Trojan All-American Jonah Texeira as they will tee off on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast live coverage of Friday’s quarterfinal match beginning at 2 p.m. CT. Other quarterfinal matches feature Illinois’ Dylan Meyer against Michigan’s Nick Carlson, Pepperdine’s Sahith Theegala against Australian international Curtis Luck and Stanford’s David Boote and Oklahoma’s Brad Dalke as live television coverage runs through 5 p.m.

Fellow sophomore All-American Sam Burns fell to Theegala in the Round of 32 on Thursday morning by the narrowest of margins as the Pepperdine standout advanced by a 1-up margin.

Burns immediately squared the match with a birdie at the par-five second after dropping the par-four first, and took a 1-up lead with a birdie 3 at the par-four fourth hole. Three-straight wins on Nos. 5-7 gave Theegala a 2-up advantage before Burns squared the match again with birdies at the par-four 10th and 11th holes. Despite regaining his 1-up lead midway through the back nine, Theegala birdied the par-four 15th and 16th holes to seize a 1-up lead of his own that held up through the finish.

LSU’s senior All-American Brandon Pierce went down to a 3-and-2 defeat to Illinois Class of 2016 recruit Bryan Baumgarten in their second-round match on Thursday morning. Pierce trailed throughout as he dropped to 4-down through five holes and was 3-down at the turn after picking up a win at the eighth. They traded the 11th and 13th before halving each of the last three holes with Baumgarten picking up a 3-and-2 win.