Trio of LSU Tigers teammates ready for U.S. Open test

Via LSU Athletics

Trio of LSU Tigers teammates ready for U.S. Open test

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Trio of LSU Tigers teammates ready for U.S. Open test

LSU’s Jacob Bergeron was playing in the group in front of his college teammate Philip Barbaree last Monday in a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Richmond, Texas. Bergeron, a sophomore from Slidell, La., fired an opening 8-under 64 at Shadow Hawk Golf Club and had just struck the first tee shot of his second round when he ran back to Barbaree, a junior from Shreveport, La., who was wrapping up a first-round 68.

“I knew he was holing a lot of putts,” Barbaree said. “Then he told me he shot 64 and I was like, ‘Dang, I need to step it up.’”

Bergeron challenged Barbaree to catch him, and before heading down the first fairway left his teammate with some parting words.

“I’ll see you at Shinnecock,” Bergeron told Barbaree.

Eighteen holes later, the two Tigers were holding tickets to their first U.S. Open. And as co-medalists – Bergeron, playing sectionals for a third time, had closed in 69 to finish at 11 under along with Barbaree, who capped his second career sectional with a 65. They accounted for two of the three qualifiers out of the site.

More than 1,100 miles away in Jupiter, Fla., another LSU player, senior Luis Gagne, medaled at his sectional qualifier. Gagne shot 68-70 to finish at 6 under, two shots clear of the field, and nab one of three U.S. Open berths out of The Bear’s Club.

Three college teammates advancing out of sectionals as medalists? Surely it’s happened few times – if any – in U.S. Open qualifying history.

Not that Barbaree is surprised; this was a hungry group of Tigers. LSU was a top seed last month at NCAA regionals, but had to travel to Stockton, Calif. The trip got off to a rocky start as a lengthy flight delay caused the Tigers to arrive on the West Coast around midnight – and without their bags.

Making matters worse: LSU ended the first of three rounds in a tie for 10th, and could only claw its way back to sixth, a spot away from qualifying for the NCAA Championship.

“We all went back to Baton Rouge obviously disappointed, but at the same time, we’re not afraid to work really hard to get where we want to be,” Barbaree said. “That definitely motivated us and pushed us, and that’s probably part of the reason why we’re all about to play the U.S. Open.”

Oct 24, 2017; Windermere, FL, USA; LSU's Jacob Bergeron walks off of the third green during the final round of the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational golf tournament at the Isleworth Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The loss that knocked LSU out of the NCAA championship this year motivated Philip Barbaree and his LSU teammate. “That definitely motivated us and pushed us, and that’s probably part of the reason why we’re all about to play the U.S. Open,” he says. (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

All three golfers were expected to arrive on Long Island by Saturday. Barbaree flew in on Wednesday and planned to play 18 holes each day until Monday, when he’d scale back to nine holes a day before beginning play Thursday alongside Cameron Wilson and Will Grimmer.

“I can only expect it to be the hardest course or setup that I’ve ever played,” said Barbaree, who won the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur.

Bergeron will play with Lanto Griffin and Tom Lewis in the first two rounds while Gagne is grouped with Cole Miller and Kristoffer Reitan.

Bergeron will have his dad, Wendell, on his bag for the week, too.

“Hopefully we can sneak our way to Sunday and have a shot to bring home a trophy,” Bergeron said. “That’d be one heck of a Father’s Day present.”

The Tiger trio already has scheduled a practice round together. Former LSU standout Sam Burns is also slated to join in what will seem more like an LSU qualifying round.

As for some other practice round partners, the LSU boys have some targets – Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, among them – but none bigger than Tiger Woods.

“I’d love to play with Tiger,” Bergeron said. “He’s Tiger freaking Woods for crying out loud.”

That’d be a lot of Tigers. Gwk

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