LSU golf reaches final 8 of NCAA championships
HUTCHINSON, KS - The LSU golf finished the final day of stroke play in a tie for 2nd at the NCAA championships and the Tigers earned themselves a spot in the match play portion of the tournament, open only to the top 8 teams, for the first time since its inception in 2009.
Sparked by final rounds of 2-under par 70 by junior Ben Taylor and 1-under par 69 by senior Smylie Kaufman, the Tigers capped their third round of stroke play qualifying with a team score of 1-under par 279 to finish as the runners-up to the No. 3-ranked Stanford Cardinal and in a tie for second place with the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Stanford ran away from the field with a 54-hole score of 13-under par 827 to claim the No. 1 seed in the match play quarterfinals beginning Tuesday morning. Alabama earned a No. 2 seed in match play with the second tiebreaker established by the NCAA of highest 54-hole score by one golfer in the lineup after both teams' non-counting scores over the three rounds totaled 11-over par.
LSU broke par in each of its three rounds in stroke play to clinch its first top-10 team finish at the NCAA Championships in 25 years, sandwiching scores of 1-under 279 in the first and third rounds around a 2-under 278 in the second round for a 54-hole score of 4-under par 836. The Tigers last cracked the Top 10 of the final team standings at the NCAA Championships in 1989 when they tied for eighth place nationally.
This will be the 20th time in the program's history that the Tigers will take home a top-10 team finish at the NCAA Championships, which includes four national championships won in 1940, 1942, 1947 and 1955.
Their performance sets up a quarterfinal match with No. 21-ranked UCLA as the Bruins nabbed the No. 6 seed thanks to an unbelievable display of putting on their back nine to finish off a round of 1-over 281 in the last round for a 54-hole score of 4-over 844 to end in sixth place overall in stroke-play qualifying.
No. 1 seed Stanford will face No. 8 seed Illinois after the Fighting Illini tied the SMU Mustangs for seventh place in the team standings at 5-over par 845 after 54 holes. No. 2 seed Alabama will battle No. 7 seed SMU and No. 4 seed Oklahoma State and No. 5 seed Georgia Tech will feature in the remaining quarterfinal match after the Cowboys finished at even-par 840 and the Yellow Jackets ended at 1-over par 841 in stroke play.
The Tigers and Bruins will feature in Match 2 in the quarterfinals as they will tee off from hole No. 10 with the first pairing scheduled to go off the back nine at 7 a.m. CT.
"Our guys are excited. They have worked hard this year, and are excited for the opportunity to play for a national championship," said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. "The reality of the NCAA Championships is that it is two tournaments here. We played very well in stroke play to put ourselves in this position, and now we'll go to match play with the mindset to win. The teams we've brought here in the past few years have all had it in them to get to this point, but I'm so proud of these guys for believing in themselves and taking that next step up.
"These guys are developing into a very good team. We'll keep playing the type of golf we've been working toward, and see if we can't get a little bit better every day. We're looking forward to it."
After opening the championship with a 1-over 71, Taylor caught fire to finish as the top Tiger in the individual competition as he played his final 36 holes at 5-under par with scores of 3-under 67 and 2-under 68 to tie for sixth place on the final leaderboard at 4-under par 206 for the championship. It's the third time in the last five years that an LSU Tiger has cracked the Top 10 of the final NCAA leaderboard after three-time All-American John Peterson tied for sixth place as a junior in 2010 before being crowned the NCAA Champion as a senior in 2011.
Taylor played a nearly flawless third round on Monday with three birdies and just one bogey on his scorecard. After opening with six-straight pars, he reeled off three birdies over a four-hole stretch around the turn at the par-five seventh, par-four eighth and par-three 10th holes before making his lone bogey of the day at the par-four 13th hole to cap his afternoon with a team-leading 2-under 68.
It was an outstanding individual finish in the NCAA Championships debut for the junior from Leatherhead, England, as Taylor joined the program last summer as a two-time NCAA Division II All-American.
Kaufman and junior teammate Curtis Thompson also broke par for 54 holes to lead the Tigers into match play as they tied one another for 19th place on the leaderboard at 1-under par 209 for the championship.
Kaufman trailed Taylor by just one shot on the day with his 1-under par 69 in the third round that featured an eagle at No. 7 and a birdie at the par-four 14th hole along with bogeys at the par-four ninth and par-four 16th holes. Thompson carded three birdies and three bogeys on the day to earn his best career NCAA Championship finish with an even-par 70 in Monday's final round.
Junior First-Team All-SEC performer and All-American hopeful Stewart Jolly added a 2-over 72 toward LSU's team score on Monday as he finished off the individual competition in a tie for 55th place at 4-over 214 for the championship. Sophomore Zach Wright rounded out the lineup in a tie for 105th place at 9-over 219 that featured a 4-over 74 on the day.
Stanford's Cameron Wilson was crowned the 2014 NCAA individual champion after defeating Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans in a three-hole, sudden-death playoff after the two All-Americans tied one another with matching 54-hole scores of 6-under par 204 in medal play. Stanford's David Boote, Houston's James Ross and Alabama's Robby Shelton finished one shot off the pace in a tie for third place at 5-under par 205.
NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS - STROKE PLAY FINAL ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 840)
1. Stanford 281-267-279 - 827 -13; T2. Alabama 274-278-284 - 836 -4; T2. LSU 279-278-279 - 836 -4; 4. Oklahoma State 277-279-284 - 840 E; 5. Georgia Tech 277-282-282 - 841 +1; 6. UCLA 279-284-281 - 844 +4; T7. SMU 275-285-285 - 845 +5; T7. Illinois 285-280-280 - 845 +5; 9. South Carolina 272-292-282 - 846 +6; 10. Houston 284-285-279 - 848; T11. California 279-289-282 - 850 +10; T11. Georgia 286-287-277 - 850 +10; 13. Texas 289-278-284 - 851 +11; 14. Oregon 284-297-271 - 852 +12; 15. Washington 279-287-287 - 853 +13; T16. Vanderbilt 281-285-288 - 854 +14; T16. Oklahoma 273-287-294 - 854 +14; T18. Kentucky 288-286-283 - 857 +17; T18. Arkansas 292-286-279 - 857 +17; 20. Missouri 283-289-287 - 859 +19; 21. UAB 282-285-295 - 862 +22; 22. Georgia State 285-290-288 - 863 +23; 23. Auburn 274-292-300 - 866 +26; 24. Florida State 286-301-283 - 870 +30; 25. Iowa State 278-299-294 - 871 +31; 26. Kennesaw State 294-294-284 - 872 +32; 27. Purdue 286-289-298 - 873 +33; 28. Virginia Tech 294-301-281 - 876 +36; 29. Texas A&M 296-288-297 - 881 +41; 30. Southern California 296-298-295 - 889 +49.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 210)
1. Cameron Wilson, Stanford, 71-63-70 - 204 -6; 2. Ollie Schniederjans, Georgia Tech, 71-65-68 - 204 -6; T3. David Boote, Stanford, 73-67-65 - 205 -5; T3. James Ross, Houston, 70-69-66 - 205 -5; T3. Robby Shelton, Alabama, 72-65-68 - 205 -5; T6. Ben Taylor, LSU, 71-67-68 - 206 -4; T6. Denny McCarthy, Virginia, 65-71-70 - 206 -4; T6. Seth Reeves, Georgia Tech, 66-72-68 - 206 -4; T9. Brian Campbell, Illinois, 70-74-63 - 207 -3; T9. Sebastian Cappelen, Arkansas, 68-71-68 - 207 -3; T9. Lorens Chan, UCLA, 70-70-67 - 207 -3; T9. Bryson Dechambeau, SMU, 69-69-69 - 207 -3; T9. Toni Hakula, Texas, 72-68-67 - 209 -3; T9. Ryan Zech, Missouri, 70-69-68 - 207 -3.
T6. Ben Taylor, 71-67-68 - 206 -4
T19. Smylie Kaufman, 68-72-69 - 209 -1
T19. Curtis Thompson, 68-71-70 - 209 -1
T55. Stewart Jolly, 74-68-72 - 214 +4