Information provided by LSU Sports
EUGENE, Ore. – LSU took another step toward defending its national championship on Sunday by making the 54-hole cut at the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships as the Tigers posted a team score of 3-over par 283 in the third round for a three-day total of 11-over par 851 in the event being held at Eugene Country Club.
Junior Brandon Pierce and freshman Sam Burns led the way for the Tigers with scores of 1-under par 69, while junior Eric Ricard added a 2-over par 72 and senior Zach Wright and freshman Luis Gagne each halved their counting scores of 3-over par 73 to put the team in position for a return trip to match play.
The Tigers have appeared in the match-play tournament for the national championship in each of the last two seasons as they took home the title a year ago after advancing to the NCAA semifinals in 2014.
The field of 30 teams teeing off at the start of this year’s NCAA Championships has been cut to 15 following Sunday’s play as those teams will play a fourth round of stroke play qualifying on Monday. The Top 8 teams in the final team standings after 72 holes will advance to the match play quarterfinals being held Tuesday and seeded and matched according to their final stroke play position.
LSU is six shots off the pace and in a strong position to qualify for match play with a team score of 11-over par in 54 holes of stroke play. Vanderbilt leads the way with a three-day total of 5-over 845, followed by Texas in second place at 7-over 847, Southern California in third place at 10-over 850 and tournament host Oregon in fifth place at 12-over 852. Also among the Top 8 in the current team standings are Arkansas in sixth place at 15-over 855, Arizona State in seventh place at 17-over 857 and California in eighth place at 18-over 858.
Other teams making the 54-hole cut include Oklahoma State (859) and Illinois (859) in a tie for ninth place, Kentucky (863) in 11th place, South Carolina (865) in 12th place and Florida (866) in 13th place in the standings.
While five teams tied for 14th place at 27-over par after three rounds of stroke play, Louisville and Oklahoma rounded out the Top 15 and Monday’s round with the two best cumulative throw-away scores for 54 holes. Clemson, Georgia and TCU saw their seasons come to an end despite officially finishing in a tie for 14th place at this year’s championship.
Burns has quietly climbed into a tie for 13th place on the individual leaderboard after opening the championship on Friday with a 4-over par 74 in the first round and following with under-par rounds of 2-under par 68 for the second round and 1-under par 69 for the third round. He is seven shots back of Oregon’s Aaron Wise for the 54-hole lead and just one shot outside the Top 10 of the standings.
Burns turned at 3-under par for his round with birdies at the par-five fourth, par-four eighth and par-four nine holes, only to finish at 2-over par for the back nine with three birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey coming in. He will compete for his first collegiate top-10 finish while teeing off Sunday at 1-over par for the championship and with a three-day total of 211.
Pierce certainly turned his fortunes around on Sunday as he matched Burns with the team’s low round of the day at 1-over 71 after opening with rounds of 3-over 73 in the first round and 6-over 76 in the second.
Pierce, who tied for 11th place in stroke play in his debut appearance at the NCAA Championships a year ago, broke par for the day with four birdies and three bogeys on his scorecard. That vaulted him 42 places up the leaderboard and into a tie for 67th place with teammate Wright at 8-over 218 for the tournament. Wright matched his 3-under 73 from the second round in the third round after opening with his 2-over 72 on Friday.
The defending national champions have been led by freshmen throughout the weekend as Gagne also joined Burns in the Top 20 on the individual leaderboard as he finished Sunday’s play in a tie for 20th place with his three-day total of 3-over par 213. Gagne fired back-to-back even-par rounds of 70 to open his first NCAA Championship.
Ricard’s score of 2-over 72 on Sunday moved him to 4-over par for the championship with a 54-hole score of 214 to finish the day in a tie for 30th place overall. He posted consecutive 1-over 71s to open the weekend.
Oregon’s Wise is the leader in the clubhouse in the race for the individual national championship as he holds a two-shot lead over Vanderbilt’s Matthias Schwab with a 54-hole score of 6-under 204, including his brilliant 6-under par 64 in Sunday’s third round. Beau Hossler of Texas follows three shots back in third place at 3-under 207, while four golfers are tied for fourth place at 2-under 208.
The Tigers are paired with Oregon and Arkansas in Monday’s fourth and final round of stroke play as they will tee off from the front nine beginning at 1:50 p.m. CT. Golf Channel starts its live coverage of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships on Monday as fans can follow the action from 6-9 p.m. CT. Golfstat will also provide live scoring throughout the event online at http://www.golfstat.com.