Women's Golf Rallies From 8 Down to Punch Ticket to NCAA's, Stone Earns Co-Medalist Honors
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida –The No. 3 ranked LSU women’s golf team played its final eight holes (holes 2-9) in 8-under par to rally to get one of the five qualifying spots for the NCAA National Championship Wednesday at PGA National Champion Course at the NCAA Palm Springs Garden Regional.
Also, Latanna Stone captured her second medalist honor of the season with a third straight round of 71 to finish at 3-under 213 for the 54-hole event tied for the top with Brooke Bierman of Michigan State.
Carla Tejedo posted the best round of the tournament for LSU with a clean card with three birdies for a 3-under 69 and Ingrid Lindblad posted a 1-under 71 on the final day. Aine Donegan was the other final counting score for LSU with a 2-over 74.
The Tigers shot a final round of 3-under par 285 on the par 72 layout that hosts the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, and moved from a tie for seventh to a final finish of fifth in a day full of drama that had LSU edging Arkansas for the last qualifying spot.
LSU finished at 15-over par 879 (298-296-285).
LSU started the day five shots out of fifth place in a tie with the Arkansas Razorbacks at 18-over par. The Tigers started on the 10th hole and really wasn’t able to get much going on the front nine, falling to 22-over par at one point in the round and eight shots off the cut line.
But as the action moved to the par 5 third hole (the 12th of the day), Stone, Tejedo and Donegan all birdied the 510-yard hole. It was Tejedo’s second straight birdie as LSU played the front side last.
Lindblad’s game hit stride and she birdied the par 4 fourth, the par 5 sixth and the par 4 eighth. Donegan also posted birdies on the sixth and the par 3 seventh holes and slowly but surely LSU found themselves inching into a competition with Arkansas for the final spot.
Making matters more complicated was that the walking scorers for Tejedo and Donegan had posted bogeys instead of pars on three holes that forced some manual math until the official cards were posted showing LSU with the one-shot advantage.
With the possibility of a playoff looming, both LSU’s Stone and Arkansas’s final player had birdie putts with Arkansas having the closer putt. Stone from long-distance put hers on the left lip and tapped in for par, while the Razorback putt to force a playoff horseshoed the cup and stayed out.
“At the beginning of the year, we said this was the place we wanted to go for regionals and we were fortunate to get here,” said LSU Coach Garrett Runion. “One thing we focused on all year was our final five holes. The first two rounds we struggled a little bit. Today that proved to be the difference. Ingrid, Latanna and Carla did not make a bogey on the final nine holes. They showed up big when the most pressure was on. They knew where we stood and they stepped up and hit golf shots and some big putts in the big moments.
“I’m proud of the way they showed up when they needed it most. A lot of regionals have some funny things. There are some crazy moments at the end and if you look at our roster, it looks like an older roster, but the reality is we haven’t really had too much regional experience,” Coach Runion noted.
In 2020 the NCAAs were canceled by COVID, the 2021 regional was never started by the NCAA because of weather and last year was the first regional that Lindblad, Stone, Tejedo and Donegan (at Indiana) played.
“I’m proud of the way they never gave up, fought to the end and got it done,” Runion said.
LSU advances to the national championship in Scottsdale, Arizona for the third consecutive year, the first time the LSU women’s golf program has advanced to the national championship three straight years from the regional format since the 1999-2001 seasons.
Also advancing from the Palm Beach Gardens Regional, one of six that finished Friday with five teams advancing from each regional, were Michigan State (the winner at 8-over 872, with Duke at 875 in second and Texas and Northwestern tied for fourth ahead of LSU at 878. The Tigers were one shot back in fifth, a shot ahead of Arkansas.
With Stone in the tie at the top, Lindblad finished in a tie for ninth at 2-over 218 (74-73-71), her 32nd career top ten finish. Donegan finished at T25 with 75-74-73 – 223 (7 over). Tejedo moved up 18 spots with her 69 to finish at T33.
“Latanna, it seems she shoots 71 every time,” Runion said. “She’s been so consistent this year and she proved that this week. She plays tough golf courses well. She proved that. To have that anchor for all three rounds. Carla stepped up big today. She didn’t play as well as she would have liked the first two days, but when she needed it the most, she showed up which is a huge reason we are advancing. Ingrid birdied three-of-her-last-six holes and we advance by one, that’s big-time playing. That’s stepping up. Aine was there all three rounds playing consistent golf that helped up through.”
The rally by LSU was the biggest margin since the 2015 LSU men’s team had to rally from 11 down in the final round to get the last qualifying spot in the New Haven Regional. LSU won the national championship that year.
It also with playoff implications possible the 2008 season when now Assistant Coach Alexis Rather chipped in for birdie in a sudden death playoff that got LSU the final qualifying spot in the Austin Regional.
The Tigers qualify for the 16th time in program history to the NCAA championship finals and LSU will be one of the teams that will have played in all three years the championships have been held at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Tigers ended up leading the field in par 3 scoring at 2-over par and led the field by seven in pars with 179 for 54 holes. LSU finished with 31 birdies and the 10 on the final nine holes (holes 1-9) was more than LSU had in either of the first two rounds. Stone led the field as she did all week on the par 5s at 6-under par and Lindblad, Stone and Tejedo tied for second in pars with 39.
The championships will start on Friday, May 19 with for the first time in the history of women’s golf, 30 teams taking part. There will be a cut after the May 21 third round to 15 teams who will compete in the first of the nationally-televised Golf Channel rounds for the eight spots in the match play finals which are set for May 23 and 24.
The Tournament will move to California beginning with the 2024 event.
NCAA PALM BEACH GARDENS REGIONAL
PGA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS COURSE
Final Team Results (Par 288-864)
TOP 5 Teams Advance To National Championship
1 Michigan State 285-296-291 – 872 +8
2 Duke 298-290-287 – 875 +11
T3 Texas 298-291-289 – 878 +14
T3 Northwestern 300-284-294 – 878 +14
5 LSU 298-296-285 – 879 +15
6 Arkansas 297-297-286 – 880 +16
7 UCF 300-291-300 – 891 +27
8 South Florida 296-293-306 – 893 +29
9 Alabama 299-303-296 – 898 +34
10 California 302-299-301 – 902 +38
11 Penn 306-306-298 – 910 +46
12 Quinnipiac 315-322-300 – 937 +73
Individual Top 5 (Par 72-216)
(Byrne qualifies for national championships as top finisher not on a qualifying team.)
T1 Latanna Stone, LSU 71-71-71 – 213 -3
T1 Brooke Biermann, Michigan State 69-73-71 – 213 -3
3 Sara Byrne, Miami 70-70-74 – 214 -2
4 Andie Smith, Duke 73-73-69 – 215 -1
5 Kajal Mistry, Arkansas 74-73-69 – 216 E
T1 Latanna Stone – 71-71-71 – 213 -3
T9 Ingrid Lindblad – 74-73-71 – 218 +2
T25 Aine Donegan – 74-75-74 – 223 +7
T33 Carla Tejedo – 79-77-69 – 225 +9
63 Edit Hertzman – 79-83-80 – 242 +26