Ready To Go: LSU Women's Golfers Start Spring Season Sunday
BATON ROUGE – The No. 22 LSU women’s golf team is set for a tough spring campaign that Coach Garrett Runion and his Tigers hope leads them back to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season when the team begins play Sunday in Melbourne, Florida.
The first spring event, the Moon Invitational, is hosted by Louisville at the Suntree Country Club Classic Course. Play starts Sunday and the 54-hole event runs through Tuesday. This will be the team’s first event together since the fall season ended in late October.
In the fall, LSU got an impressive win in the Jackson T. Stephens Cup at Alotian Club in Arkansas.
“I thought we had a good fall season,” Coach Runion said earlier in the week. “In a way (the Stephens Cup) felt like we won twice by winning the stroke play portion and then going out and winning the match play portion against a very strong South Carolina Team. Hopefully we will be able to draw some experience from that week and carry it over to the post season.
“Every fall is a little different because it’s a new team so there’s a little adjustment period. We had two true freshmen in Elsa Svensson and Lauren Clark see action in the fall, that was great and now they should be more comfortable and confident in the spring knowing what to expect.”
LSU concluded the fall ranked 22nd in the Women’s Golf Coaches Association national poll, 22nd in the Golfstat performance rankings and No. 19 in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. So, the Tigers will enter the spring with the opportunity to move forward against top competition in preparation for post-season.
“As we start the spring season I just want to see my team compete and work to get better,” the fourth-year LSU head coach said. “The goal is always to be better at the end of the season than the beginning. We had the fifth toughest ranked schedule in the fall and our spring schedule looks no different, maybe stronger. That is by design, I want my team to be tough because once you get to the SEC Championship, Regionals and NCAA Championship you have to have that competitive toughness to accomplish the things they want to accomplish.”
The spring schedule is by design, starting with the Moon Invitational and then just a few days later the Darius Rucker Invitational that will feature the first telecast of a regular season women’s only event on The Golf Channel (Feb. 28-March 2).
“The field for that event may be stronger than the national championship,” Coach Runion pointed out.
The gauntlet of a schedule continues in March with the Clover Cup in Arizona and a Clemson hosted event in Sunset, South Carolina.
“We are going to play some desert golf in Arizona in preparation for the national championship (in Scottsdale) in May,” said Coach Runion. “We have a healthy mix of old and new tournaments, with two tournaments being played on courses we have seen before and two that we have never played before. Being able to adjust after only seeing the course one time is a skill you’ll need to help advance to the National Championship.”
The Tigers team has two juniors that are listed in the top 40 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings in Sweden’s Ingrid Lindblad and Florida’s Latanna Stone. Lindblad, ranked second in the current rankings, and Stone, ranked 38th, have both received invitations to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur March 30-April 2.
Ingrid won her fifth individual college goal title in the Stevens Cup in a playoff win over teammate Carla Tejedo Mulet.
Stone had a great between semesters on the course, winning two prestigious amateur events.
“Latanna Stone had an unbelievable break winning the Dixie Amateur and Orlando International Amateur. I know she wasn’t pleased with her play in the fall but she didn’t complain, she went home and put a lot of work in and it paid off. She got an invite to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur which was a big goal of hers,” said Coach Runion.
“I’m really excited starting up the spring season,” said Stone. “We all have been working so hard at our games over the break.”
Tejedo Mulet tied with Lindblad after 54 holes in the Stevens Cup at 1-over 217 and despite falling in the playoff, the NCAA credits her with her first individual collegiate title in that event.
“I’m looking forward to the start of the spring season to show everyone, but especially ourselves, that we can do big things together.
Lindblad averaged 70.83 in the fall, Tejedo Mulet 72.33 and Stone 74.08. Svensson (74.50) and Jessica Bailey will make up the lineup for the opening event of the season.
“I’m super excited to get the season started,” said Lindblad. “We’ve put some great work in during the winter, both individually and as a team. Personally, I have worked a lot on my putting during the break at home and when I got back to LSU and I’ve seen improvements during qualifying. I feel like the team has the potential to make a lot of birdies and shoot some low scores going into the spring.”
“Practice has been great so far this spring,” Coach Runion commented about preparation. “Overall, other than a few bad weather days we have had great weather for January and February and been able to practice and play a lot. We reviewed a lot of stats from the fall and pin pointed certain areas for each player and have focused on those areas so we are more prepared for the spring.”
The field for the opener besides host Louisville and LSU is made up of: #9 Alabama, #6 Arkansas, #17 Auburn, Augusta State, #15 Baylor, #19 Duke, #7 Florida, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, #3 South Carolina, UCF and #8 Virginia.
In the opening round on Sunday, LSU will be paired with Miami and Baylor and will go off the 10th tee at 9:10 a.m. CT. Live scoring for the event can be found at Golfstat.com.