NEW ORLEANS, La. – The No. 5-ranked LSU women’s golf team showed what it was capable of with seven counting birdies down the stretch to rally for a three-stroke win over Nebraska Tuesday in the final round of the Green Wave Fall Classic at the Bayou Oaks at City Park South Course.
The win is the third in the last five starts for the LSU women dating back to the last regular season event a year ago and is the 49th in the history of the program which dates back to the 1979-80 season. The first win came during the 1981-82 season at Memphis and is the second time LSU has won in New Orleans (the other the AllState Sugar Bowl Classic in the 2014-15 season).
For firth year coach Garrett Runion, it his eighth team title since taking over the program.
The Tigers 54-hole score of 32-under 832 is a regular season 54-hole score mark for the program, eclipsing the mark of 841 set in 2014 at The Alamo Invitational. The only time LSU scored better was the 2021 SEC Championship Stroke Play qualifying when the Tigers posted 818.
LSU’s individual rounds of 278-275-279 are all in the top 10 for single 18-hole team scores. The 275 middle round is the third lowest in program history.
LSU, tied with Nebraska entering the final round, was behind at points in the third round by as many as six shots before LSU slowly began to whittle into the margin and eventually took the lead in the tournament.
“I think that this is the first time, other than our home events, that we’ve taken eight players to a tournament,” said Coach Runion. “I believe 75 was our highest score by anybody in all three rounds, which just goes to show how deep we are. Three wins in the last five tournaments dating back to last year which is nice to secure the momentum going into this year and start things off on a good note. I was really proud of the way we played the ‘final five.’
“The ‘final five’ is a big thing for us and we didn’t have a lead until the last two or three holes. So yes, the final five is important. We finished strong and that’s one thing we’ve been working on in practice to finish the rounds. It paid off (Tuesday) and that seemed to be the difference.”
The individual competition proved to also very exciting for the Tigers as Latanna Stone posted her third runner-up finish of her career at LSU as the senior posted her third consecutive tournament round in the 60s (68-67-69) to finish at 12-under 204. Stone had four birdies including on both the short par 4 16th and the closing par 5 18th hole. For the 54 holes, Stone had just two bogeys.
“I know Latanna is very happy with her performance in this tournament,” Runion said. “I know she would like to have won, but that will come. This is a great start for her and the way she played all three rounds was very good. She didn’t press, took what the course gave her, made pars and moved on to the next hole. Those two birdies on the 16 and 18 were important for the team and her individually. You can see how the international experience of playing in the Curtis Cup and Palmer Cup has set her up for what could be a very good senior season.”
Also, two players making their LSU debuts – Aine Donegan and Taylor Riley – made plenty of noise as both players shot 10-under 54-hole scores of 204 for the event to finish in a tie for third.
Donegan, a sophomore transfer from Indiana who set a record there for stroke average last season, had rounds of 67-68-71, while Riley, in her collegiate debut playing as an individual, also shot three rounds in the 60s (69-68-69).
Riley is the daughter of a former Tiger star, Michelle Louviere Riley, who was part of the “Three Amigas” with Ashley Winn and Laura Moore from 1995-98.
Of the two players, Runion said: “For Taylor, finishing in third place shooting 10-under par as a true freshman in her first even college event, with the added pressure of playing where he mom played, was unbelievable. That was what you hoped for, but she just played unbelievable. Aine Donegan being in the lineup in her first tournament as a Tiger comes out and ties for third was a huge blessing. I was really pleased with the way she played and competed to the end. She really proved that she wants the big stage and is ready to compete.”
LSU on the final day counted the 69 by Stone, 71s by Donegan, Elsa Svensson and Carla Tejedo, but the big score of 4-under 68 came from grad student Alden Wallace of Shreveport.
“Alden worked really hard over the summer,” Runion commented. “She really wants to go out with a bang on her fifth year and I was glad to see some of that hard work show off. She shot 4-under for the tournament (72-72-68) and tied for 17th. She came through with a strong finish on the day by getting birdies on three of her last four holes. That really helped us secure the victory.”
Svensson finished in a tie for 11th after rounds of 71-68-71 gave her a three-day total of 6-under 210.
“Really you can point to anybody and they helped us out,” the coach said. “This was a tournament where you needed a lot of offense and we were fortunate to make a lot of birdies and close it out.”
Kelli Strand of Nebraska was the individual winner at 14-under par 202, two shots ahead of Stone with rounds of 67-65-70. Lilly Thomas of Tulsa also shot 10-under 206 to tie for third with Riley and Donegan.
Statistically, LSU was 20-under on the par 5s, 5-under on the par 3s and par 4s. The Tigers were second in pars at 182 and third in birdies at 57. Donegan, Stone and Riley were both 6-under on the par 5s and Svensson and Riley were both 5-under on the par 4s. Donegan had two eagles on the par 5 11th hole and Monday, Stone had a hole-in-one on the par 3 second hole.
Riley, Wallace and Svensson all had 14 birdies, tied for third in the event.
Oh, and grabbing win No. 49 has left a thought in some players minds. “Some of the older players had mentioned that because last year they were eyeing the 50th win,” said Runion. “It’s good motivation that they want to be part of the 50th win in program history. To get the 49th one early on in the season is a good start. Now we can work towards that magic 5-0 number.”
The first shot for “50” comes Sept. 23-25 when the Tigers travel to Franklin, Tennessee for the Mason Rudolph Championship.
GREEN WAVE FALL CLASSIC
New Orleans, Louisiana
Bayou Oaks at City Park South Course
Final Team Results (Par 288-864)
1 LSU 278-275-279 – 832 -32; 2 Nebraska 278-275-282 – 835 -29; 3 Tulsa 276-282-280 – 838 -26; 4 Tulane 288-282-284 – 854 -10; 5 Incarnate Word 294-281-280 – 855 -9; 6 South Florida 282-286-289 – 857 -7; 7 Mercer University 296-280-287 – 863 -1; 8 Central Arkansas 290-289-290 – 869 +5; 9 Sam Houston 293-289-288 – 870 +6; 10 Seattle 288-298-295 – 881 +17; 11 Chattanooga 298-291-296 – 885 +21; 12 Little Rock 300-290-297 – 887 +23; 13 Northern Colorado 301-303-290 – 894 +30; 14 UNC Asheville 302-306-307 – 915 +51
Individual Top 5 (Par 72-216)
1 Kelli Strand, Nebraska 67-65-70 – 202 -14; 2 Latanna Stone, LSU 68-6769 – 204 -12; T3 Lilly Thomas, Tulsa 69-72-65 – 206 -10; T3 Taylor Riley, LSU 69-68-69 – 206 -10; T3 Aine Donegan, LSU 67-68-71 – 206.
2 Latanna Stone 68-67-69 – 204 -12
T3 Taylor Riley 69-68-69 – 206 -10
T3 Aine Donegan 67-68-71 – 206 -10
T11 Elsa Svensson 71-68-71 – 210 -6
T17 Alden Wallace 72-72-68 – 212 -4
T27 Presley Baggett 75-71-70 – 216 E
T35 Carla Tejedo 74-73-71 – 218 +2
T43 Edit Hertzman 71-74-75 – 220 +4
(LSU Athletic Media Release)