Men's Golfers Receive SEC Postseason Honors

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Men's Golfers Receive SEC Postseason Honors

BATON ROUGE – LSU head coach Chuck Winstead has been named the SEC Coach of the Year while senior Stewart Jolly, junior Zach Wright and sophomores Brandon Pierce and Eric Ricard have each earned All-SEC honors after the Tigers were crowned SEC Champions for the 2014-15 season with their victory at the SEC Men’s Golf Championships two weeks ago.

Like Buddy Alexander in 1986 and Britt Harrison in 1989 before him, Winstead is the third head coach of the LSU Men’s Golf program to be recognized as the Coach of the Year in the Southeastern Conference in leading the Tigers to their first SEC Championship in 28 years with their three-shot victory at Sea Island Golf Club on April 17-19.

On the strength of their performance this season, Jolly, Wright, Pierce and Ricard were each named Second-Team All-SEC selections in a vote of the league’s head coaches following the SEC Championships. Jolly is now an All-SEC performer for the second-straight season after picking up first-team honors a year ago, while Wright, Pierce and Ricard have each been voted to the All-SEC team for the first time as LSU Tigers.

Thursday’s announcement of the SEC’s postseason awards marks the first time in team history that four Tigers have been named to the All-SEC team, eclipsing their previous best of three selections six times.

Just one season after advancing to the Final Four of match play at the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships last spring, the Tigers are among the NCAA’s elite once again while emerging from the SEC Championships ranked as high as No. 5 nationally in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches’ Top 25 poll released on April 24. They are also the No. 7-ranked men’s golf team nationally in both the Golfstat and Golfweek power rankings released earlier this week. LSU is now positioned for a top seed in NCAA Regional play in the coming weeks with regional fields being announced on Monday, May 4.

Their victory at the SEC Championships on April 19 was the fourth team title of the season for the Tigers as they have also been crowned champions at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (Sept. 14-16) and David Toms Intercollegiate (Oct. 4-5) during the 2014 fall season and Talis Park Challenge (March 15-16) during the 2015 spring season to highlight the campaign.

LSU captured its first SEC Championship since 1987 and its 16th conference title all-time with a three-shot victory over South Carolina and Vanderbilt at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course where they fired the winning score of 13-under par 827 for 54 holes. The Gamecocks and Commodores each followed three shots back in a tie for second place at 10-under par 830 for the event.

Three Tigers cracked the Top 10 of the final SEC Championships leaderboard in leading the Tigers to the conference title with Jolly setting the pace in a tie for fourth place at 5-under 205 in his fourth and final start as an LSU Tiger at the championship. Wright followed in a tie for sixth place at 4-under 206 for his best finish in three SEC appearances and Pierce ended in a tie for ninth place at 3-under 207 in his debut.

Pierce has bounced back from a back injury that sidelined him for the 2014 fall season to enjoy an All-SEC season as the No. 33-ranked player nationally by Golfweek and No. 36-ranked player nationally by Golfstat.

Pierce is the team’s leading scorer with a career-low 71.11 scoring average while starting all six tournaments for the Tigers during the 2015 spring season. In six appearances, Pierce has cracked the Top 20 individually on five occasions with three Top 10s. He fired a career-low of 7-under par 209 to tie for 10th place at The Prestige at PGA West before also tying for sixth place at the Valspar Invitational at Floridian.

Like Pierce, Wright has enjoyed a breakout season as one of the Top 40 players nationally during the 2014-15 campaign as the No. 37-ranked player by Golfstat and No. 51-ranked player by Golfweek.

Wright has posted a career-low of his own with a 71.85 scoring average in nine tournament appearances on the season as the team’s second-leading scorer. He has finished among the Top 20 of the final leaderboard in eight of his nine starts this season, while also earning a trio of top-10 finishes in 2014-15. That includes back-to-back Top 10s with a tie for fifth at the Aggie Invitational and tie for sixth at the SEC Championships.

Ricard is the only Tiger to appear in all 10 tournaments during the 2014-15 season, and like his teammates, has posted a career-best 72.03 scoring average to follow both Pierce and Wright as LSU’s third-leading scorer in his sophomore season. Ricard, who leads the Tigers with four top-10 finishes on the season, ranks No. 65 in Golfweek and No. 73 in Golfstat as one of the top players nationally.

Ricard earned his best career finish when he placed second overall at the Golfweek Conference Challenge back in the fall where he fired a career-low tournament score of 5-under par 211 to help lead the Tigers to first place in the team standings. He also tied for eighth place at the U.S. College Championship to close the fall season before tying for seventh place at The Prestige at PGA West in LSU’s spring season opener and tying for eighth place at the Talis Park Challenge to help pace the Tigers to another team title this spring.

Jolly will end his collegiate career as a two-time All-SEC performer as he picked up second-team honors on Thursday just one year after being named a First-Team All-SEC performer by the league’s head coaches.

While heading into NCAA Regional play as the No. 64-ranked player nationally by Golfweek and No. 81-ranked player nationally by Golfstat, Jolly is fresh off his best career finish at the SEC Championships when he tied for fourth place overall with a score of 5-under par 205 to lead LSU to the team title. It’s a performance that dropped his scoring average to an impressive 72.07 strokes per round to rank fourth on the team.

Jolly fired out of the blocks in the 2014 fall season with a third-place finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic before defending his individual title with a win at the Golfweek Conference Challenge for his second win of his collegiate career. Jolly’s tie for fourth place at the SEC Championships was his third top-10 finish of the season to seal his All-SEC status once again.

Jolly also looks to add the title of All-American to his name for the second-straight season after being honored as a Third-Team All-American by both PING and Golfweek following his junior season a year ago.

With their 16th SEC Championship now in the history books, the Tigers will await their eighth-straight NCAA Regional selection as the field for the 2015 NCAA Men’s Golf Regionals will be announced on May 4, from 9-10 a.m. CT on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive program. They look to qualify for the 30-team field at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships for the fifth time in six seasons by capturing a top-five team finish at NCAA Regional competition.

2015 SEC MEN’S GOLF POSTSEASON AWARDS

FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC
Matthew NeSmith, South Carolina (SEC Championship Medalist)
Matt Gilchrest, Auburn
Lee McCoy, Georgia
Ben Schlottman, Auburn
Matthias Schwab, Vanderbilt
Robby Shelton, Alabama
Will Starke, South Carolina
Hunter Stewart, Vanderbilt

SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC
Theo Humphrey, Vanderbilt
Carson Jacobs, Vanderbilt
Michael Johnson, Auburn*
Stewart Jolly, LSU
Taylor Moore, Arkansas
Brandon Pierce, LSU
Eric Ricard, LSU*
J.D. Tomlinson, Florida
Zach Wright, LSU

SEC ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM
Jonathan Hardee, Alabama
Theo Humphrey, Vanderbilt
Tyler “Chip” McDaniel, Kentucky
Ben Schlottman, Auburn
Alejandro Tosti, Florida

SEC COACH OF THE YEAR
Chuck Winstead, LSU

SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Hunter Stewart, Vanderbilt

SEC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Ben Schlottman, Auburn

SEC SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Forrest Gamble, Ole Miss

* – Indicates a tie in the voting.