LSU Gold

Column: LSU Strong Part Of Elite Golf Event

Column: LSU Strong Part Of Elite Golf Event

AUGUSTA, Georgia — First of all, let me say when I said my notes column needed a graphic, this wasn’t what I was quite expecting from the people at creative.

Secondly, when I said a part of it needed to be bigger, I wasn’t referring to the caricature of my mug.

But I do want to give a shoutout to one of our favorites, Madison Leavelle, now with the Saints/Pelicans group in New Orleans, for doing a good job on that before she left last year. I look almost 75. We have seemingly found a place to use it.

Enough of that. We’re here to talk golf and for me this week, I’m happy, excited and amazed to be at this prestigious tournament in Augusta, Georgia. It is a great time to be covering and watching this LSU women’s golf program and every time I get to watch them play, it becomes easy to see why they are presently No. 3 in the WGCA and Golfstat rankings.

This week, it is kind of a one-on-one experience as Ingrid Lindblad, Latanna Stone and Carla Tejedo are all working for the same goal over 18 holes of golf on Wednesday and then Thursday. The first goal is to get to the top 30 to advance through the cut to Augusta National. We’ll worry about what happens then when it happens.

Thirty and ties advance from a field of 72 that is stacked all the way to the top of the Golf Channel camera tower on the 18th hole with talent. Defending champions, really young players and those who have experienced this tournament before and been very close to heading to Butler Cabin for a trophy presentation.

LSU’s trio is all that in many ways. Carla Tejedo, it’s her first shot. The invitation finally came and she stated it in so many words after her practice round – avoid the big number. Then there is Stone and Lindblad, back again with the experience of playing here knowing, like all returnees, it is a new day and another chance.

All in this field have the belief this will be the year. Most importantly, they are part of an event that is now every woman’s golfers dream. Four years, most prestigious? You bet. Most elite field? You bet. That green envelope when it arrives is a signal you are among the best in amateur golf.

Today it all begins at Champions Retreat. Augusta is still a couple days away, but a lot will be decided in the next 48 hours.

Okay. It’s not quite Disneyland, but I knew exactly where I was when I drove onto Bobby Jones Expressway Monday night as I arrived in Augusta. And while the “tradition unlike any other” doesn’t start for another week, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur is settling in pretty well on its on merit.

I don’t know what Chairman Fred Ridley exactly had in mind at the 2018 Masters when he announced the creation of this event the week prior to The Masters, but it has done nothing but inspire greater interest and participation in women’s golf and the chance for the players to fulfill a dream.

The Golf Channel and NBC are here. Mike Tirico will be here Saturday to lead the NBC team. Already there is a worldwide press corps here. Your little writer is dwarfed by the size of the Japanese writing and broadcast group covering people like 2020 champion Tsubasa Kajitani and the other Japanese players. Tejedo stopped to do a Spanish television interview after her practice round today.

And while we are at it … Champions Retreat isn’t Augusta National, but Augusta junior it might be. Facilities any club would love to have. Three 9-hole courses designed by golfing legends and practice facilities to marvel at.

Oh, and when patrons (remember the Augusta designation) arrive today and head to the giant concession area you will find those always discussed low priced concession items. Not everything that you will find at Augusta National, but very close and pretty inexpensive. However, the question still remains – egg salad or pimento cheese? As cheap as these prices are, maybe one of each. It’s a long day.

One thing that will be gone on Thursday evening/Friday morning is the playoff to the final 30. In 2019 it was 11 players for 10 spots; in 2021 it was five players for one position and last year it took four holes for four players to decide one position. How nerve wracking that must have been.

Now the ties at 30 all get in and that’s I think a reasonable decision for Augusta National to make. A few more players doesn’t hurt the field at all.

The playoff last year came at 150 for 36 holes (+6), 151 (+7) in 2021 and 147 (+3) in 2019 when scores were at their lowest at Champions Retreat. What will the number be?

Everyone that came to the quote area talked about the course being wet and playing longer. There’s no famed sub-air system on this course so how quickly it dries out and how firm the greens will be remains to be seen.

And the scores are now beginning to roll in on the live scoring link for the opening round. Check out the Golf Channel at 12:30 p.m. CT this afternoon for first round play. We’ll have a full recap here tonight and Thursday morning we will discuss caddies, what the cut may be and who knows, maybe a pimento cheese sandwich review.

And I might as well say it, that’s “Geaux Lowe” from Augusta for March 29.