Editor’s Note: The following is an official press release courtesy of LSU’s athletics department.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida – The LSU women’s golf team tees off Monday morning in the first round of the NCAA Regional Golf tournament at the prestigious PGA National Champions Course, home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.
The tournament is the first step for the Tigers and a possible return to the NCAA Championships for the third straight year in Scottsdale, Arizona later this month. LSU must finish in the top five in this 54-hole event that runs through Wednesday to advance to the final tournament of the year. It LSU advances, it would be the first time since 1999-2001 that LSU has gone to the event three straight times.
The team went through their practice round Sunday morning and into the early afternoon as winds held steady between 15-25 miles per hour throughout.
When LSU tees off at 8 am local time (7 am in Baton Rouge), the temperature will be in the mid-70s and winds will start out at less than 10 miles per hour, but will get to double figures by the later stages of the round with temperatures in the low 80s.
LSU was able to test itself with the heavy east winds on Sunday as they learned about the course and its many areas of water and sand.
“We knew it was going to be windy down here,” said fifth-year LSU women’s golf head coach Garrett Runion. “But anywhere we go for a practice round we 1) try to get the speed of the greens and 2) get the distances and the lines off the tees. Out here, we hit a lot of different clubs other than driver off the tees and they are going to have a couple of holes with different tee boxes so it is figuring out the yardage of what to hit off the tee because water comes into play on so many holes. You also want to stay short of bunkers and trouble or carry bunkers and carry trouble. So, the two main things are the speed of the greens and clubs and distances off the tee box.
“Luckily for us the wind was blowing out of the east (on Sunday),” the SEC Coach of the Year said. “It will blow out of the same direction for us (on Monday). We will play in a similar wind and that helps.”
LSU has appeared in 26 regionals since the regional qualifying began with just two tournaments in 1993, ironically with one of those in Baton Rouge. Last year, LSU easily advanced in a year when only four teams qualified from each of six regionals, tying for second in the Stanford Regional with a 54-hole score of 845 (-7).
For the first time, the women’s NCAA championships will have the same number of teams as the men’s championships with 30 teams and five will qualify from each of the six regionals being held Monday through Wednesday. So, finishing first is good, but not the be all, ending all as fifth place is just as important for future golf for the teams.
LSU has four golfers that have regional experience in its lineup this week led by first-team All-SEC selections Ingrid Lindblad and Latanna Stone. Also, junior Carla Tejedo has teed it up in regional play as has sophomore transfer Aine Donegan, who participated as an individual entrant in last year’s NCAA Regionals while in Indiana.
Freshman Edit Hertzman, who stared down some of the best in the women’s game in finishing second in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, will make her first NCAA regional appearance.
LSU, as the top seed, will be in the opening team wave of the event Monday with the second seed Texas and No. 3 seed Northwestern.
The rest of the team field in seed order is No. 4 UCF, No. 5 Duke and No. 6 Michigan State. The seventh seed is California and then two other SEC teams, No. 8 Arkansas and No. 9 Alabama. The final three seeds are South Florida (10), Penn (11) and Quinnipiac (12).
Lindblad averaged 70.46 on the season with two wins this year (11 for her career), while Stone is at 71.56 with a win and an eighth place finish in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Donegan, a second-team All-SEC selection, comes in with a 72.33 average, with Tejedo at 73.78 and Hertzman, a freshman All-SEC selection, is at 74.14.
LSU has four wins this 2022-23 wraparound season, just one off the school mark of five set in the 1985-86 season under Coach Runion who has 10 victories as the head coach of the Tigers. Runion was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year.
The course the regional will be contested on has been the home of the PGA Senior Championship and now the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic. Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio, the Champion course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2014. The course features one of the signature stretches in golf, “The Bear Trap” which spans three demanding holes over water designed by Nicklaus – the par 3 15th , the par 4 16th and the par 3 17th.
Coach Runion knows what has to happen for LSU to be successful this week.
“We have to eliminate the big numbers,” said Runion. “I looked back, the men played a regional here last year and the scores were everything from 20-under to 20-over made it. Florida Atlantic (tournament hosts) played their Conference USA championships out here the last two years and we looked at those scores. The wind will have a big impact. I believe the wind will stay strong this week and it will be more of a hang-on type tournament. So, we just need to eliminate the big numbers. Bogeys are okay. Stay out of the water, especially on the par 3s, and we’ll be fine. Make conservative lines with aggressive swings.”
Live scoring for the event will be available at Golfstat.com under the Palm Beach Garden regional and updates will be available @LSUWomensGolf on Twitter.
Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire