Women's Golf to Host LSU Tiger Classic
BATON ROUGE – Nine of the nation’s top 50 teams including the LSU Lady Tigers will be in action for three days of women’s college golf starting Sunday when the LSU Tiger Golf Classic begins at the University Club in Baton Rouge.
This is the 34th spring that the LSU women’s golf team has hosted an event in Baton Rouge, which first begin at the former Fairwood Country Club before moving to the U-Club for the first time in 2000.
LSU is the defending champion, winning for the eighth time in tournament history, the fourth time at the U-Club. Then junior Elise Bradley of Mandeville, recorded a par on the second hole of sudden death to win the event after tying for individual honors at 2-under par 214.
“Coming into the event, surprisingly with all the rain last week it was very dry,” said LSU Coach Karen Bahnsen of the U-Club layout. “This time of year the greens are in really good shape and the course is really good. With the wind we are going to have and the dry weather moving in, I think we are going to have a really good event.”
This will mark the first time in recent years that play will begin on Sunday and continue into the week through Tuesday after years of Friday through Sunday play to determine the champion. But the LSU players and several other teams will be enjoying spring break starting on Monday thus allowing the teams to come in on Friday afternoon.
The weather, which left things misty and overcast at the start of Saturday’s practice round, is expected to be good for the three days of play, although a little on the cool side for at least the first two rounds.
With a regional set for the University Club in early May, many teams may be making the first of two appearances in Baton Rouge in about a seven-week period. That’s why this year’s tournament has 17 teams and 11 individuals taking part in the 54-hole event.
They will see a somewhat different layout on two back nine holes that will be in play for the regional with the 14th hole playing as a 448-yard par 5 and the usual par 5 17th hole playing as a 378 par 4. While the course will still play at par 72, the course for the Classic will measure out at just under 6,250 yards.
“Number 14 was a par four around the corner and ever since we redid the golf course, that hole has really never suited women’s collegiate golf,” said Bahnsen. “We tried to tweak it and make a bunch of changes with the design and the way that the lakes are right there we couldn’t build a new tee box. So a committee got together and brainstormed and changed it to a par five from the back tee and then built a new tee box on 17 that was a par five into a par four. It makes 14 a fun par five hole you can make some birdies on and 17 is a legit, really good par four hole.”
LSU (ranked 50) is one of the nine top 50 teams in the present Golfstat performance rankings coming into the event. Duke is the highest ranked team at No. 3 with Arkansas ranked fourth, Tennessee 18, Houston 25, Notre Dame 29, NC State 33, North Carolina 41 and Tulane 45. The rest of the field includes: Auburn, Denver, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, North Carolina Wilmington and Wake Forest.
LSU (8 wins), Arkansas (3 wins), Auburn (3 wins), Duke (2 wins), UNC, UNCW & Tennessee are the teams in the field that have at least one win in the LSU women’s event.
Individually, Duke will bring in the top-ranked golfer in Golfstat with Leona Maguire. Anna Newell, Tennessee’s top player is ranked No. 19, while Hannah Wood of Oklahoma is ranked 35 and Emily Penttila entered ranked 40th.
“Obviously, we like to have a strong field for the event,” said Bahnsen. “With us hosting a regional, which attracted a lot of teams that wanted to come check out the course in advance of that tournament because they know it is a challenging golf course.”
Freshman Kathleen Gallagher, the daughter of former LSU women’s golf Cissye Meeks-Gallagher and multiple PGA winner and Golf Channel analyst Jim Gallagher, Jr., has shown her ability all season long and Baton Rouge sophomore Sydney Cavin has a win this spring, rallying from T7 to win on the final day of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate in New Orleans.
Gallagher has two top 13 finishes, including a T13 in the last start at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in which she shot 74-71-74 over the par 71 layout and she leads the active players with a stroke average of just over 74 stroke a round this season.
Defending champion Bradley will look to return to her form of a year ago that had her ranked in the top 50 as she makes her final tour of the University Club in a regular season team event. Also in the team competition for LSU will be freshman Marina Hedlund and senior Nadine Dreher. Transfer Lana Hodge and junior Carly Goldstein will play in the individual competition.
“I feel good honestly,” said Bahnsen. “I feel like we have made the turn mentally and hopefully I will see that out (on the course). But the girls are in a good place mentally and they are out there giving their best. They are working hard. We are just hoping they can see the results of that.”
The Lady Tigers are still missing All-America standout junior Caroline Nistrup and sophomore Claudia Di Antonio with both out with injury.
“(Caroline’s rehab) is ahead of schedule,” the LSU Coach said. “Claudia is also doing well with her rehab. With Caroline, wrists are a delicate situation and you don’t push wrist (injuries). I respect her future too much to push it. We are just taking it day-by-day and we are definitely not going to jeopardize her future.”
The tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning with tee times off No. 1 and No. 10 tees. LSU will play in the final wave off hole No. 1 starting at just after 10 a.m.
The second round is scheduled for Monday and a final shotgun start round is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Admission is free.
Live scoring for the event can be found at LSUsports.net through golfstatresults.com and updates at www.Facebook.com/LSUwomensgolf and @LSUwomensgolf on Twitter.