UM leads tournament, Iowa in second
Host LSU two shots behind in third place
BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 9 LSU wrapped up the first day of competition at the LSU National Invitational just two shots behind the Michigan Wolverines following Saturday’s action at the University Club as the Tigers are in search of their fourth team championship of the 2011 campaign.
After opening with a 7-over par 295 in the first round to head into the afternoon in a tie for first place with No. 12-ranked Iowa, the Tigers posted a team score of 6-over par 294 to finish the Saturday’s competition in third place overall in the team standings with a 36-hole score of 13-over 589.
On the strength of a tournament-low 3-over 291 in the second round, Michigan surged ahead of the Tigers and Hawkeyes into first place with a total of 11-over 587 for the day. Iowa wrapped up the first day of the event in second place at 12-over 588, while Chattanooga (595) and VCU (602) rounded out the top five.
LSU will tee off alongside Big 10 conference foes Iowa and Michigan in Sunday’s final round beginning at 9 a.m. CDT on the first tee in what is sure to be a tight battle for the team title throughout the day.
The lengthy par-72 layout at the new-look University Club proved to be a challenge for competitors in the first two rounds of the event as the field managed an average of 77.61 strokes per round on the afternoon.
“It’s a tough golf course,” said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. “When you’re at home, you want to try to impress those around you. Whether or not that was an issue for our team today, I know these guys look forward to coming back out here tomorrow and playing well. I expect they will come out here tomorrow with a competitive mindset and an attitude to perform to the best of their ability.”
Iowa head coach Mark Hankins gave his thoughts on the new design at the University Club following this tightly-contested Saturday at the revived LSU National Invitational.
“The course is in great shape,” Hankins said. “The greens are pretty tricky, and you really have to control your distance. I think the guys that chipped and putted well today are the ones who played well. We think the weather was absolutely perfect today, so there really were no excuses out there.”
As has been the case for much of the 2010-11 season, LSU seniors John Peterson and Andrew Loupe have the Tigers in position to compete for the team title after finishing the day in the top-10 of the leaderboard.
Peterson fired rounds of 2-under 70 and even-par 72 for a 36-hole score of 2-under 142 on Saturday to finish the day five shots back of first-round and second-round leader Stephan Jaeger of Chattanooga. With his performance, Peterson finds himself in a tie for third on the leaderboard with Iowa’s Vince India as they are two of just five players in the field of 66 to break par on the afternoon.
Loupe, tied for eighth, is nine shots off the pace at 2-over 146, which featured a 3-over 75 in the first round and a 1-under 71 in the second round on Saturday.
Rounding out the LSU five-man starting lineup is senior Ken Looper (tied for 22nd at 6-over 150), junior Sang Yi (tied for 25th at 7-over 151) and junior Austin Gutgsell (tied for 54th at 18-over 162). Looper’s day was highlighted with an even-par 72 in the first round of competition.
Two Tigers finished the day among the Top 10 of the leaderboard while competing as individuals through the tournament as freshman Andrew Presley fired back-to-back rounds of even-par 72 to place sixth in the individual standings at even-par 144 and senior Clayton Rotz posted rounds of 2-over 74 and 1-over 73 in two rounds to finish in sole possession of 10th place at 3-over 147.
Freshman Franco Castro finished in a tie for 12th place at 5-over 149. Meanwhile, freshmen Smylie Kaufman and Landon Lyons wrapped up in a tie for 42nd at 12-over 156 and a tie for 51st at 16-over 160, respectively.
While the University Club proved to be a difficult challenge for most, Jaeger fired a 2-under 70 in the first round and a tournament-low 5-under 67 in the second round to take the lead at 7-under 137. Michigan star Alexander Sitompul is four shots back in second place at 3-under 141 for the championship.