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LSU Men’s Golf Advances to First NCAA Championship Since 2019

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LSU Men’s Golf Advances to First NCAA Championship Since 2019

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s golf team secured its spot at the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2019 on Wednesday as the Tigers moved up one spot to finish right above the cutline. The Tigers’ round three of 4-under 288 moved their tournament total to 4-over 868 for the week at University Club in Baton Rouge. 

“LSU belongs in national championships,” said  interim head coach Andrew Nelson. “I’m so thankful to be taking the team back, and I believe that’s where we need to be. LSU plays for championships, and the regional is just one of the steps you have to take to get to a national. We got through this and now it’s time to take the next step in San Diego. We can’t wait to get out there.”

The Tigers’ last appearance in an NCAA Championship came in 2019 when LSU advanced through the Stanford Regional with a fifth place finish 2-strokes above the cutline that came down to the final hole, much like today. The Tigers went on to finish T22nd at the Championship that year. LSU has won five national championships, most recently in 2015. 

The Tigers were led by Connor Gaunt who fired a 5-under , 211 that gave the senior a T5 finish in the Baton Rouge Regional. Gaunt carded 15 birdies over three days of play, and only shot one round over par.  Gaunt was an integral part of the LSU 5th place finish and national championship bid. 

“I think our team is just a bunch of dogs,” said Gaunt. I think we have a bunch of guys who can play good golf even when they don’t have their best stuff. Golf is hard, and you may not have your best stuff all the time but we’ve been working hard.” 

Senior Alex Price provided the Tigers a much needed spark in the final day of NCAA Regional play. Price carded a three birdie, zero bogey day that left his scorecard at three under. The transfer steadied the ship for the Tigers and parred a total of fifteen holes to help hold the Bayou Bengals at fifth place. 

“It feels great,” said Price. “I’ve had a tough semester, but I’ve been getting better with scores and I kept telling the guys this was coming. It hadn’t been coming but today, when the guys needed it most, I finally stepped up and put a solid round up there to get us through.” 

Freshman Jay Mendell carded an even par day to help the Tigers stay in contention. After finding some trouble on the difficult ninth hole, Mendell fought hard to save par and keep LSU comfortable. The All-SEC Freshman also carded five birdies in a crucial performance. 

Senior transfer student Lance Yates was a big help for the Tigers in the final round. Yates finished with a clutch one over par performance that helped limit any damage that the Tigers could face. After bogeying the tough par 4 seventh hole, Yates responded with a birdie on the challenging par 3 eighth. 

Auburn won the Baton Rouge regional with a score of 21-under 843 and cruised into the NCAA Championships. The Auburn Tigers shot an astounding 20-under 268 round three that skyrocketed them into first place to end the tournament. 

The Virginia Cavaliers came into the final day leading the tournament, but were overtaken by Auburn when the dust settled. The Cavaliers, as a team, finished the tournament in second place with a final tally of 13 under par. 

Texas Tech finished the tournament in third place with a round three score of 11-under 277. The Red Raiders also had the individual tournament winner, Baard Skogen, who had an 8-under 66 week to propel the team into the podium. Texas Tech finished 8 strokes above 4th place in a dominant Wednesday showing. 

Ohio State finished the week in 4th place behind strong performances from Masters Low-Am Neal Shipley and standout Adam Wallin. The Buckeyes were even par at the end of the tournament and comfortably booked their spot in Carlsbad. 

The LSU Tigers claimed the final spot to the National Championship in nail biting fashion. With a 1-stroke lead over 6th place Houston, the Tigers watched in excitement and anxiety as Santiago De La Fuente of Houston played the difficult par four 18th hole. After a drive into the fairway, De La Fuente was forced to play for birdie and pulled his approach shot into the water. After a drop and two more shots, the hole ended in a bogey and secured the Tigers ticket to Carlsbad. 

“This was thrilling, this was a fight and I’m very proud of the team,” added Nelson. “We played a good round yesterday, we put together a good round today and had everybody in the field competing and playing hard. I’m excited that the boys got to walk out of here going to the national championship and it was so special to do it at home.”

The lowest-scoring player on a team that did not finish in the top five of the tournament receives a bid to the National Championship in Carlsbad, CA. Ethan Evans from Duke was able to put together a 6 under, 210 stroke performance to punch his ticket to the NCAA Championships next week. Evans shot a one under 67 in round one, a five under 67 in round two, and an even par round three that gave the Duke golfer a T2 finish. 

LSU will begin stroke play at the NCAA Championship in Carlsbad, Calif. At the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa on Friday, May 24th. All 30 teams and six individuals will complete 54 holes of stroke play. Following 54 holes of competition, the top 15 teams along with the top nine individuals not on an advancing team will advance for one additional day of stroke play to determine the top eight teams for match-play competition and the 72-hole stroke-play individual champion. The top eight teams after 72 holes of play will be placed into a bracket thereafter.

The Tigers took the course on Wednesday sporting their famous “Nola” polos that have become a historic tradition within LSU men’s golf. During the 2013-14 season, the men’s golf team began wearing this shirt in its final rounds to spark a comeback. That team went on to earn second at the SEC Championship and third overall at the NCAA Championship. 

The shirt is named after former LSU pitcher, Aaron Nola because he was baseball’s Friday night starter who did not lose. The 2014-15 team continued the tradition that season and went on to win five tournaments, the SEC Championship, and the schools first National title in the last 60 years. Aaron Nola pitched a complete shutout on Tuesday and inspired the Tigers to take their purple and white stripes onto the course Wednesday. 

Pos Team R1 R2 R3

Auburn 285-290-268 (-21)
2 Virginia 280-290-281 (-13)
3 Texas Tech 292-287-277 (-8)
4 Ohio State 289-294-281 (E)
5 LSU 295289284 (+4)
6 Houston 289-296-285 (+6)
7 Duke 291-291-291 (+9)
8 S. Carolina 293-298-284 (+11)
9 Oregon 292-299-292 (+19)
10 Louisville 301-301-283 (+21)
11 Lipscomb 294-298-296 (+24)
12 Yale 320304-295 (+55)
13 Loyola (Md.) 310-315-304 (+65)
14 UAPB 321-328-327 (+112)

Pos     Individual, School R1 R2 R3
Baard Skogen, Texas Tech 71-71-66 (-8)
T2 Brendan Valdes, Auburn 74-70-66 (-6)
T2 Calum Scott, Texas Tech 70-73-67 (-6)
T2 Ethan Evans, Duke 71-67-72 (-6)
T5 Connor Gaunt, LSU 687370 (-5)
T5 Josiah Gilbert, Auburn 70-74-67 (-5)
T5 Jackson Koivun, Auburn 70-73-68 (-5)

2024 NCAA Men’s Golf Regionals – Advancing Teams (seeds)

Baton Rouge Regional
1. (1) Auburn, -21
2. (2) Virginia, -13
3. (3) Texas Tech, -8
4. (6) Ohio State, E
5. (7) LSU, +4

Chapel Hill Regional
1. (10) Clemson, -25
2. (4) East Tennessee St., -24
3. (1) North Carolina, -20
4. (3) Georgia Tech, -17
5. (6) Baylor, -15

West Lafayette Regional
1. (1) Vanderbilt, -24
2. (5) Purdue, -11
3. (3) Florida, -4
4. (2) Arizona, -3
5. (4) New Mexico, -2

Austin Regional
1. (3) Texas, -27
2. (1) Tennessee, -11
3. (6) Notre Dame, -6
4. (9) Utah, -2
T5. (5) Wake Forest, +2 (def. BYU in tiebreaker)

Rancho Santa Fe Regional
1. (3) Oklahoma, -3
T2. (5) Oklahoma St., +3
T2. (4) California, +3
4. (10) West Virginia, +5
5. (6) North Florida, +10

Stanford Regional
1. (3) Illinois, -36
2. (1) Florida St., -28
3. (4) Texas A&M, -19
T4. (7) SMU, -10
T4. (5) Stanford, -10