Thumbs up: LSU; Thumbs down: Wake Forest

Austin Ernst walks off the tee box at No. 18 during the Round of 64 at the U. S. Women's Amateur Championship at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, Rhode Island.

The first week of tournaments are in the books and it’s time for some reviews. What better way then to give some thumbs up and thumbs down?

Thumbs up

1.) LSU (women) – The Bayou Bengals started the year with a five-stroke victory over North Carolina at the Cougar Classic. The top half of the leaderboard was filled with several top 20 teams from the ACC and SEC Conference.

“I feel we’ve got a very strong team that is filled with competitors and ball strikers,” LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said. “I was really proud of how they kept fighting all week and, was really proud of how they competed for the win and how they were able to get the job done.”

Leading the way for the Tigers was last year’s NCAA medalist Austin Ernst, who shot 13-under 203 to step back in to the winner’s circle this week. Also helping the Tigers climb up the leaderboard was the stellar play of freshman Madelene Sagstrom. With seven holes to go in the final round, the freshman from Sweden finished in five under to help secure the win for LSU.

2.) Texas and Kentucky (women) – The reigning Big 12 champs started their year with a win at the Texas A&M Mo’morial. Desiree Dubreuil, Nicole Vandermade and Haley Stephens all finished second, third, and fourth respectively for the Longhorns. The three combined to shoot even par, and help lead their team to a narrow two-stroke victory over Auburn. Finishing in third at the Aggies’ home event was another SEC team – Kentucky. Last season the Wildcats struggled to a 51-123 head-to-head record, but they started the season in strong fashion leaving Texas with a healthy 8-2 record to start the year.

3.) California (men) – With so much attention going to the “other” schools in the state of California, the Bears started their season off with a win at the Wolverine Intercollegiate. The Bears topped Baylor by 12 shots, posting a three-day score of 13-under 839. “We had three really solid rounds on a tough golf course that was long and wet”, Cal head coach Steve Desimone said. “We beat a very good Baylor team, and I was happy with the way we buckled down in crunch time.” Joel Stalter, Max Homa, Michael Kim, and Brandon Hagy all finished in the top 15 for the Bears. The Bears will try to make it two in a row in Big Ten country, when they head to Iowa for the Golfweek Conference Challenge in a week and a half.

Thumbs Down:

1.) Wake Forest (women) – It was a struggle for the Demon Deacons at the Cougar Classic. Wake Forest finished in 15th place at the 22 team event, and with a score of 40-over 904, fell to LSU by a total of 56 shots. Cheyenne Woods was the team’s top finisher tying for 26th, but the next Demon Deacon couldn’t be found on the leaderboard until T-72, which was by Greta Lange. On a bright note, the team was able to play better as the tournament went on. In round the Deacons shot a 19-over 307, followed by a 12-over 300 and 9-over 297 in the final round. Wake will look to rebound from this performance in a few weeks when they travel to Chicago for the Windy City Classic.

2.) Tulane (women) – After establishing themselves as a top 20 team in women’s college golf over the last few years the Green Wave got off to a rocky start at the Texas A&M Mo’morial finishing in ninth. At the 12-team event, Tulane was only able to defeat Coastal Carolina, UTSA, and the Aggies B team in the 54-hole tournament. First-year coach Andrew Pratt did not want to start his coaching career at Tulane like this, and will have to figure out a way to turn things around. Teams can have a bad tournament here and there, but when you lose to tournament champs Texas by 46 shots clearly there is work to do. Things will not get any easier for Tulane any time soon, because the Green Wave’s next event is the Fall Preview hosted by Vanderbilt next week.

3.) Wake Forest (men) – Like the women, Coach Haas’ Deamon Deacons struggled in their opening event as well. Wake Forest finished in tenth out of 12 teams at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. As a team, Wake shot 26-over 890 to finish 39 shots back of tournament champion Auburn. The two teams Wake was able to defeat were Middle Tennessee State and South Carolina who both tied for 11th. Lee Bedford led the way for his team tying for 21st, but the senior got little help from his teammates. Charlie Harrison was the next top finisher for Wake Forest at T42. Next up for the Deamon Deacons is the VCU Shootout at the end of the month.

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