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LSU Men's Golf Tees Off Friday In NCAA For 40th Time; First Since 2019

LSU Men's Golf Tees Off Friday In NCAA For 40th Time; First Since 2019

CARLSBAD, California – The LSU men’s golf team first made the NCAA Championships in the inaugural event way back in 1939.

Now, the Tigers are back for the first time in five years to make their 40th appearance in the Championships which now converts the OMNI La Costa Resort’s North Course from a 6,300-yard layout for the women’s championship that ended on Wednesday to the 7,500-yard behemoth that the players will attack beginning Friday.

LSU, a winner of five national championships (1940, 1942, 1947, 1955 and 2015), advanced to the championships with a stirring fifth place finish in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at the University Club in Baton Rouge.

The Tigers advanced with a 54-hole total of 4-over 868 on rounds of 295-289-284. LSU was in 10th after one round but a very strong second round moved them up within one stroke of the cutline and then with the LSU crowd bringing them home, the team put together a solid under par round to secure the spot.

After clinching the spot, graduate Connor Gaunt, who hails from Cabot, Arkansas, called his team “just a bunch of dogs. 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.”

And that’s where it starts on Friday. LSU and 29 other teams tee it up on Friday and let the golf ball fall where it may. In the same format as last week for the women, all the teams will play 54 holes with a cut to the top 15 teams for the final round on Monday where the individual champion will be crowned. The top eight teams will meet in match play on Tuesday and next Wednesday to determine the champion.

Gaunt will play in the No. 1 spots for the Tigers. He has seven top 5s this year and leads the team in stroke average at 70.87.

Also in the lineup for the Tigers will be freshman Jay Mendell from Lafayette; graduate Alex Price of Hillsboro, Virginia; Baton Rouge graduate Lance Yates; and, sophomore Luke Haskew of Baton Rouge. Senior Drew Doyle of Louisville, Kentucky will be the alternate if the Tigers elect to switch their lineup.

Mendell has two individual wins this season – the Hal Williams Invitational where he shot a 10-under par 203 and a T1 finish at 6-under 210 at The Hootie at Bulls Bay. He is averaging 71.94 for the season coming into the NCAAs. He also had three other top 10 finishes this season.

Price has LSU’s other win back in the first tournament of the year at the Golfweek Collegiate Kickoff with an 11-under par round of 205. He averaged 73.00 for the season.

Yates posted a season best ninth place finish at the Aggie Invitational and has a 73.36 average coming in to the championships.

Haskew played in seven events and averaged 74.05 strokes per round.

In the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge, Gaunt finished T5 with a 5-under 211, while Mendell had a T15 finish at +1 217.

LSU had three tournament team wins in the 2023-24 season – the Golfweek Kickoff and the Everett Buick GMC Classic in the fall and The Hootie in the spring. LSU shot a total of 15 under par to win by six shots over New Mexico.

The team had a close to a seven-hour practice round on Thursday as the 30 teams tried to figure out the stretched layout of La Costa that features now a 622-yard par 5 second hole and the eighth hole which played at between 102 and 110 yards for women will not be anywhere from 148 to 203 for men. There will be two 500-plus yard par fours (the 7th and 14th) and the 18th finishing hole will play between 557 and 605 yards.

“Holes 7 and 14 are the hardest on the course and pars are great there,” said Gaunt. “Firm greens make short sided chips harder so controlling the ball is going to be a must. We are going to have to stay patient and bogies are going to happen. How we respond that will determine how we play. It is a good test of golf and excited to see how we handle the test.”

At its absolute length, the course is expected to play at 7,538 yards for the men’s tournament.

“We are excited to be in the national championship,” said LSU interim Head Coach Andrew Nelson. “The golf course is very good. It is obviously new. The greens are firm, but not that fast, so there is an adjustment there just to be able to putt out there. We had a long time to play golf today so I think we started to get the speed of them. You have to be able to chip it really good.

“There are some holes that are birdie holes there. We have to be able to go after them. Four (383 yards) and five (427 yards) stand out. The par 5s are hard so par will be great. The par threes are all you want.”

Where LSU had success in the Baton Rouge regional was avoiding too many big numbers and that will play a big part here.

“Especially in team golf,” said Nelson. “If you can avoid big numbers you are going to have a lot of success. In our second round at the University Club, we didn’t make any others, no doubles, anything. We played a good round of golf. That’s important out here. Bogeys are okay. Pars are great. That’s what we are going to try to do.”

This will be the first men’s golf championship conducted on the West Coast since the 2016 event in Oregon and the first one in California since 2012 (Riviera Country Club).

LSU will play with North Florida and SMU for the opening two rounds and will have the early-late waves on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s round starts at 7:57 a.m. PDT (9:57 a.m. Baton Rouge time) off the first hole.

“We do have a lot of confidence,” said Nelson about his team coming into the event. “But we also have a lot to prove. This stage is different for all of them. It’s new for all of them. It’s going to be fun to be out early and play a good round of golf and see where that leaves us. We definitely have some confidence. This place is a challenge and it is going to fun to go compete out there.”

Live scoring for the tournament will be at and the green NCAA D1 Men’s Championship tab. Updates during the round on “X” @LSUMensGolf and @LSUKent.