LSU battles back to advance to NCAA semifinals

LSU assistant coach, Garrett Runion, hugs his player Smylie Kaufman as LSU defeated UCLA during Tuesday quarterfinals of match play of the NCAA Men's Division 1 Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.

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HUTCHINSON Kan. – LSU found itself down early in three of its five matches against UCLA at Prairie Dunes on Tuesday morning.

LSU head coach Chuck Winstead didn’t see much play as he dropped back with fifth player Zach Wright as he thought matches would come down to the last player.

That wasn’t the case.

Juniors Ben Taylor and Curtis Thompson fought back in two of the first three matches to put points on the board early for the Tigers, who finished as the third seed after 54 holes of stroke play at the NCAA Championship.

LSU senior Smylie Kaufman was playing against Bruin sophomore Jonathan Garrick in the third match of the day. It went back and forth, although Garrick never led.

Kaufman made an 18-footer for eagle on the par-5 seventh to take the lead for good. He made par to Garrick’s bogey on No. 9 – their final hole – allowing LSU to advance to the semifinals Tuesday afternoon with a 4-1 victory. The Tigers will take on Alabama, No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

This is LSU’s first time playing in the NCAA match-play portion of the championship.

“The main thing we need to do is rest,” Winstead said. “It’s been a long week and these guys are excited, but anybody that says they aren’t a little tired isn’t telling the truth. So hopefully we get off our feet, get a little food and get after it this afternoon.”

• • •

Final scores

Match #1: Curtis Thompson, LSU, def. Preston Valder, 1 up

Match #2: Benjamin Taylor, LSU, def. Anton Arboleda, 4 and 3

Match #3: Smylie Kaufman, LSU, def. Jonathan Garrick, 2 up

Match #4: Lorens Chan, UCLA, def. Stewart Jolly, 4 and 3

Match #5: Zach Wright, LSU, def. Matt Pinizzotto, 2 and 1

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