LSU, Illinois tied in Lafayette
Strong second round puts Illini even heading into final round
LAFAYETTE, La.-- No. 8 LSU men's golf team wrapped up Monday's action at the 26th annual Louisiana Classics in exactly the same position it did a year ago - in a tight battle with No. 6 Illinois for the team championship at Oakbourne Country Club.
The teams concluded 36 holes Monday afternoon in a dead heat with matching scores of 6-under par 570 after two rounds.
The Tigers were steady throughout the opening day of competition as they followed a 5-under par 283 for the first round with a solid score of 1-under 287 in the afternoon to finish the day tied with the sixth-ranked Illini. After trailing the Tigers by five strokes after a first-round even-par score of 288, Illinois bounced back with a 6-under 282 in the second round to grab a share of the team lead.
"Overall it was a good day for our first stroke-play event of the spring," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "Our ball striking was above average for this time of the year. We got off to a slow start, but fought back hard."
Illinois senior Chris DeForest had rounds of 68 and 70 to stand second individually at -6, two shots behind medalist leader John Hahn (70-66). Illinois junior Luke Guthrie had a big round in the afternoon with a five-under par 67 after firing a 74 in the morning. Guthrie is tied for fifth on the leaderboard at -3. Carlson Cox of Memphis and defending champion Andrew Loupe of LSU are sandwiched in between the two Illini at -4 heading into Tuesday.
"Chris played well most of the day," Small said. "He kept his composure and took advantage of his opportunities. In order to win, we always are looking for that `eraser' score. Chris had it in the morning and Luke in the afternoon. The question now is who is going to have it tomorrow?"
DeForest got hot at the turn with five birdies in six holes from 7-12 of his opening round, then fired birdies on holes five, eight and nine for a 33 on the front nine of round two. In that hot morning stretch, DeForest hit a great approach on seven and two putted the par-five for birdie. After birdies on eight and nine, he drove the green on the 342-yard par four 10th and two putted for birdie. After a nice drive on the short par-four 12th, DeForest sank a birdie putt to move to -4 for his round.
"I've been really working on my golf swing," DeForest said. "Coach and I talked about staying in the present, so I just tried to play each shot one at a time."
The two squads will tee off in Tuesday's final round with a three-stroke advantage on Kent State, which posted a tournament low 10-under 278 in the afternoon. Louisiana-Lafayette (577) follows seven shots back in fourth place.
LSU's All-American duo of Andrew Loupe and John Peterson are each in position to earn their second top-five finish and third top-10 finish on the 2010-11 campaign with Loupe finishing the day in a tie for third place overall at 4-under 140 followed by Peterson in a tie for fifth place on the leaderboard at 3-under 141. Loupe fired back-to-back rounds of 2-under par 70 Monday, while Peterson followed a 2-under 70 in the first round with a 1-under 71 in the second round.
In a last-minute lineup switch that paid dividends for the Tigers, senior Clayton Rotz added rounds of 1-under 71 and even-par 72 to LSU's team total en route to a 36-hole score of 1-under 143 for the day. He will enter the final round in a tie for 12th.
In his second consecutive start for the Tigers this spring, freshman Andrew Presley finished the afternoon in a tie for 25th place overall at 2-over 146, including an even-par 72 in the tournament's opening round, while senior Ken Looper added a 5-over 149 on the day to finish in a tie for 38th place.
Loupe must overcome a four-shot deficit in the final round if he hopes to retain the individual title that he won a year ago with a career-low tournament score of 8-under 208 at Oakbourne Country Club.
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