LSU Gold

Connor Gaunt Finishes T18 At NCAA Championships As LSU Men's Golf Campaign Comes To A Close

The 2023-24 LSU Tigers

by Kent Lowe
Connor Gaunt Finishes T18 At NCAA Championships As LSU Men's Golf Campaign Comes To A Close

CARLSBAD, California – LSU’s Connor Gaunt finished the fourth and final round of the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship with a 2-over 74 to finish T18 at the OMNI La Costa North Course.

Gaunt finished 72 holes with a four-day total of 290 (75-72-69-74). In a difficult at times final round in all parts of the course, Gaunt would finish just five shots off the tournament winning score.

The graduate student becomes the 19th LSU Tiger to finish in the top 20 in the NCAA Championships and Gaunt becomes the first Tiger to finish in the top 20 since Sam Burns and Luis Gagne finished T13 in 2016.

Gaunt’s round started with a lot of excitement on the par 5 10th hole with two outstanding shots that led to a 10-foot putt make for eagle that quickly put him 2-under on the round and for the tournament.

A wayward approach that rolled off the green into a bunker on 13 led to a bogey and a stray tee shot on 17 led to another that left him still at even par heading into the front nine, his final nine holes of the tournament.

Gaunt parred the first five holes on the front side, before a bogey at six, put him at +1 and he was unable to save par on nine to finish at 2-over.

The individual title was won by Hiroshi Tai of Georgia Tech, who survived a triple bogey on his 17th hole of the round, the par 3 eighth, and finished at 3-under par 285 and spent almost two hours watching players try to tie him, including Gordon Sargent of Vandy, whose potential tying putt on 18 circled the hole and stayed out. Six golfers in all finished tied for second at 2-under.

The final round of Gaunt’s tournament brought an official close to the 2023-24 men’s golf season at LSU. It was a campaign in which the Tigers scored three team victories – the opening Golfweek Collegiate Kickoff, the Everett Buick GMC Classic and The Hootie at Bulls Bay.

LSU also had three individual victories during the year – two by freshman Jay Mendell and one by graduate student Alex Price.

Mendell’s wins came at the Hal Williams Collegiate when he shot 10-under to defeat a field of 80 and a tie for first in a field of 81 at The Hootie.

Price’s triumph came in the opening Golfweek kickoff when he posted -11 to best a field of 82.

The most important moment for this team and interim head coach Andrew Nelson came in a situation that wasn’t a win, but will be remembered as just a gritty, determined performance by the squad as they finished fifth as the seventh seed in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at the University Club earlier in the month to qualify to make this trip here in the first place.

LSU moved from 10th to sixth after one round in the regional with a 1-over par round of 289 and then shot 4-under 284 in the final round to seal the deal by two shots.

“We’ve had a lot of growth with this group,” said Nelson. “A lot of older guys with four seniors. The team’s gone through a lot and will change a lot this upcoming year and I’m proud of them. We had four seniors who never played in a national championship. We got to do that together and I’m proud they got to end their careers playing in a national championship and playing well.”

About the special moments in the year, Nelson said, “We did win three times this season, which is fun. That’s a handful of wins. Playing through a regional is very hard to do and is so special. To do it at home was awesome, it stands out more than anything. To be able to be home, with all our family and friends, it’s a special thing to do. It was fun to go through a regional at home.”

Gaunt not only advanced to the final round of the NCAA Championship, the Cabot, Arkansas native concluded his career also with a T5 finish in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.

Gaunt played the par 5s in the tournament at 3-under par and was +1 on the par 3 holes, T7 in the 156-player field. He posted 12 birdies in the four rounds and had one of the 20 eagles in the stroke play portion of the event.