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Thursday, February 23, 2017

LSU, Clemson men, Stanford women claim tourney titles

   While I was paying closer attention to the Central District Invitational,  won by the Furman women in  Port St. Lucie, Fla. earlier this week, some of college golf’s heavyweights, men and women, were teeing it up in some big events.
   The LSU men, ranked 14th by Golfstat, put on impressive display to repeat as the team champion at The Prestige at PGA West, which concluded Wednesday in La Quinta, Calif.
   The Tigers surged ahead of the pack with a sparkling 6-under 278 in the middle round and backed it up with a final round of 1-under 283 for an even-par 852 total. No. 48 Pepperdine had the best round of the final day, a 5-under 279, to claim runnerup honors at 4-over 856.
   No. 12 Oklahoma finished third at 6-over 858 after a final round of 2-under 282. Texas Tech, the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 7, and No. 9 Stanford shared fourth place at 9-over 861. The Raiders had a final round of 1-over 285 while the Cardinal had a final-round 291.
   The Tigers were led by Sam Burns, a sophomore from Shreveport, La. who fired a final-round 67 over the 7,065-yard, par-71 Greg Norman Course at PGA West to finish second in the individual chase at 5-under 208.
   You know things are hitting on all cylinders when you enter a player only as an individual and he responds with a top-10 finish and you win the team title anyway. Such was the case for the Tigers’ Blake Caldwell, a junior from Ponchatoula, La. Caldwell had steady rounds of 71, 70 and 70 to finish tied for ninth at 2-under 211.
   Also for the Tigers, Luis Gagne, a sophomore from Orlando, Fla., finished tied for 14th at even-par 213 after a final-round 71, Eric Ricard, a senior from Shreveport, finished tied for 26th at 5-over 218 despite a final-round 78, Phillip Barbaree, a freshman from Shreveport, finished tied for 31st at 7-over 220 after a final-round 74, and Nathan Jeansonne, a sophomore from Keithville, La., saved his best for last, his final-round 71 picking up the team and helping him finish tied for 48th at 12-over 225.
    The individual title went to Arizona State’s Jared du Toit, a senior from Canada, who blitzed the Greg Norman Course with rounds of 67, 67 and 70 for a 9-under 204 total that was four shots clear of LSU’s Burns.
   Three players shared third place at 4-under 209. They were San Diego State’s Nahum Mendoza III, a senior from San Diego who had a final-round 71, Oklahoma’s Quade Cummins, a redshirt freshman from Weatherford, Okla. who had a final-round 69, and Texas Tech’s Sandy Scott, a freshman from Scotland who had a final-round 70.
   The Puerto Rico Classic wrapped up a day earlier with No. 16 Clemson running away with the team title with a 19-under 845 total. The Tigers made their move with a 12-under 276 in the middle round and added a final round of 3-under 285 over the 6,902-yard, par-72 River Course at Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, where the North Carolina State women had won the Lady Puerto Rico Classic a week earlier.
   No. 5 Georgia settled for runnerup honors at 8-under 856 after a final round of 1-over 289. A couple of Clemson’s Atlantic Coast Conference rivals, No. 43 North Carolina State and No. 25 Georgia Tech, shared third place at 5-under 859. The Wolfpack had a final round of 4-under 284 and the Yellow Jackets had a stellar final round of 7-under 281.
   Clemson was led by Bryson Nimmer, a sophomore from Bluffton, S.C. who was the runnerup in the individual standings at 9-under 207. Nimmer cooled off a little in the final round with a 1-under 71 after going 69, 67 in rounds 1 and 2, respectively.
   Doc Redman, a freshman from Raleigh, N.C., finished tied for fifth at 4-under 212 after a final-round 71 and Carson Young, a senior from Pendleton, S.C., also had a top-10 finish as he was tied for seventh at 3-under 213 after a third straight 71.
   Austin Langdale, a senior from Townville, S.C., finished tied for 32nd at 4-over 220, including a 3-under 69 in the middle round, and Josh Fickes, a senior from Beaufort, S.C., finished tied for 40th at 6-over 222 after a final-round 74.
   Individual honors went to Georgia Tech’s Luke Schniederjans, a freshman from Powder Springs, Ga. who is the younger brother of former Tech standout and current PGA Tour player Ollie. Schniederjans had a dazzling final round of 7-under 65 to finish at 10-under 206, one shot better than Clemson’s Nimmer.
   Anticipating some weather issues, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Championship in New Orleans went with a double-round windup Monday and the Stanford women did nothing to tarnish their No. 1 ranking as the Cardinal cruised to an 11-shot victory over No. 3 Florida.
   Stanford posted an impressive middle round of 10-under 278 on its way to a 1-under 863 total. Florida had a final-round 296 to claim runnerup honors at 10-over 874. No. 20 Oklahoma State and No. 23 Arizona shared third place at 11-over 875. The Cowboys had a final-round 292 while the Wildcats finished strong with a 4-under 284.
   Stanford had three players in the top 10 in the individual chase, led by Andrea Lee, a freshman from Hermosa Beach, Calif. who finished in second place at 4-under 212. After a slow start with an opening-round 76 over the 6,239-yard, par-72 English Turn Golf & Country Club layout, Lee ripped off a pair of 68s.
   Lee’s freshman season comes on the heels of a really impressive summer during which she kept running into South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong. Lee lost to Seong in the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Ridgeway Country Club in Paramus, N.J. and then dropped a taut 1-up decision to Seong in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club right here in Springfield, Delaware County.
    In Lee and fellow freshman Albane Valenzuela, Stanford has two players who gained international experience before they ever struck a collegiate shot. Lee represented the United States in last spring’s Curtis Cup Match loss to Great Britain & Ireland outside of Dublin while Valenzuela represented Switzerland in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
   The Cardinal also got a tie for third from one of its stalwarts, Casey Danielson, a senior from Osceola, Wis. who finished at 3-under 213. That included a sparkling 5-under 67 that sparked Stanford’s surge in the middle round.
   Valenzuela finished tied for 10th at 1-over 217 after a final-round 74. Shannon Aubert, a junior from Stuart, Fla., finished tied for 24th at 5-over 221 after a final-round 76 and Ziyi Wang, a freshman from China, finished tied for 74th at 19-over 235 after a final-round 80.
   The individual title went to Arizona’s Haley Moore, a sophomore from Escondido, Calif. Moore had a 3-under 69 in the final round to finish at 6-under 210, two shots clear of Stanford’s Lee.
   Miami’s Dewi Weber, a sophomore from the Netherlands, shared third place with Stanford’s Danielson at 3-under 213 after a final-round 72.

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