Men's golf wins LSU Invitational

The LSU men's golf team earned its first tournament victory of the 2002-03 season, winning the third-annual LSU Spring Invitational Sunday at the University Club in Baton Rouge. Senior John Humphries paced the Tigers to win his first-career tournament.

The Tigers shot a 2-over par 290 in the final round on Sunday to finish with a 4-over 868, beating Jacksonville State by five strokes. LSU, JSU, and South Alabama all entered the final round tied for the lead at 2-over 578. South Alabama finished in a tie for fourth place with Arkansas State at 13-over 877. College of Charleston placed third at 11-over 875.

Humphries, a senior from Alexandria, La., won his first tournament by firing a 5-under 211, including a final-round 1-under 71. He also shot a 71 in round one on Friday and fired a 3-under 69, a tournament-low round, on Saturday as he entered the final day in a tie for second place with Charleston's Bruce McDonald.

Humphries is the first LSU golfer to win a tournament since Alan Morgan won the individual title at the 2000 Country Club of Louisiana Intercollegiate.

The 211 is Humphries' third-lowest tournament score in his career, and best this season. He has now placed in the top seven in each of LSU's last three tournaments, and has finished in the top 20 in all but one of the Tigers' seven tournaments. Seven of his last nine rounds played have been under par.

"It was just a huge relief to finally win one, I mean it is like a big weight lifted off my shoulders because I had gone my entire college career really wanting to win one," said Humphries. "I have been close a lot but had not really been able to finish it off," Humphries said. Today I did not hit it as well as I would have liked, but I fought it off, shot a 71, and managed to win.

"This is probably as consistent as I have ever played. The first two tournaments this spring I think I was in third place going into the last round in both of them and did not have good days on the final day, and today I was in second and I was not let that going to happen again, and managed to play well today.

"I am really happy for John because he has been in the hunt many times and it just had not happened until now," said LSU head coach Greg Jones. "I have seen it many times in pro golf where if you keep knocking on the door sooner or later it will open and let you right in.

"John did a great job today. He was very patient and at times he was 1-over, or back to even, or back to 1-over, but always held it together and made a couple of birdies himself down the stretch. It is his first win and I would not be surprised to see him do it again. He has worked for it, earned it, deserves it, and I am very happy that he got it."

Humphries did get help from his teammates en route to the win, as sophomores Heath West and Tucker Ervin each placed in the top 25. West, a native of Dothan, Ala., shot even-par 216 to tie for eighth place with three others, while Ervin shot a 5-over 221 to tie for 24th place.

West finished in the top 10 for the first time this season, and had his second-lowest total score of the season. West, a consideration for 2002 SEC Freshman of the Year, had three top-10 finishes a year ago and is already in the top 20 all-time on LSU's career top-10 finishes list. Humphries is 13th all-time, one behind Morgan.

"It has been a struggle to get to this point so far this year because I have not played real well," said West. I am here and maybe I can keep it going. I am getting more experience and I will keep getting better, it is just I am not hitting the ball well right now."

Freshman Aaron Smith shot an 8-over 224 to tie for 37th place with sophomore Neil Self, who played as an individual. Smith shot even-par 72 on Sunday, both a season and career-low round. Sophomore Jeff Riemann played as an individual and shot a 10-over 226 to place in a tie for 51st. Freshman David Pollet, a Baton Rouge native making his collegiate debut at the tournament, finished at 11-over 227. He shot an even-par 72 in his first-ever round on Friday.

Sophomore Jason Horrell shot a 3-over 219 to tie for 14th place. Freshman David Aitchison, another individual, shot a 16-over 232 to tie for 77th place. Individuals Justin Sevier and Adam Swope placed 92nd and 93rd overall. Sevier, a Shreveport native, also made his debut.

LSU won its third-straight Spring Invitational title, and sixth in Jones' tenure. Jones, the former head coach at South Alabama for six seasons, is in his fourth season at LSU.

"When your home event rolls around, there is a little bit of comfort involved because you are in your own bed and at your home course and so forth, but there is there added pressure because of the people who show up like friends, and parents, and girlfriends," said Jones. You expect to win and everyone else expects you to win, but in this game of golf, if you push your expectations too hard you will get disappointed."

"I know how hard these guys were trying to win, and to finish up the event like they did today was just spectacular," said Jones. We are not having the best of years, and we all know that, but they have not quit fighting, and digging, and believing that they could be a very good team."

"I think we grew up a lot today, and one of the things we do here at LSU is we preach ‘finishing', every day in practice on 16, 17, and 18. We drive it into our players' heads to ‘finish the round', and I think we did that today because I believe we made seven or eight birdies today in the last three holes and that was the difference in the tournament."

"I am so proud of all of them to make those birdies coming down the stretch even if they were not having a great day personally, just to suck it up and finish the tournament, and that was the difference. This is really big for this team, just a huge win. I think we came a long way this week because there was some pressure in this tournament, those teams are good. If you just go back and look at the regional last year, if South Alabama had just had a par on the last hole they would have knocked out Florida and UAB. Jacksonville State, Lamar, and College of Charleston are all also very good."

The Tigers will next participate in the Louisiana Classics Intercollegiate on March 10-11 at Oakborne Country Club in Lafayette, La. LSU then has just two days off before traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to play in the Conrad Rehling Invitational from March 14-16.

1. LSU 289-289-290 -- 868 +4; 2. Jacksonville State 292-286-295 -- 873 +9; 3. College of Charleston 291-290-294 -- 875 +11; t4. South Alabama 292-286-299 -- 877 +13; t4. Arkansas State 290-294-293 -- 877 +13; 6. Furman 295-290-298 -- 883 +19; 7. Lamar 289-293-302 -- 884 +20; 8. Central Florida 297-297-291 -- 885 +21; 9. Louisiana-Lafayette 301-294-297 -- 892 +28; t10. South Florida 295-291-308 -- 894 +30; t10. Mississippi State 296-292-306 -- 894 +30; t12. Arkansas-Little Rock 301-298-296 -- 895 +31; t12. Rhode Island 301-294-300 -- 895 +31; t14. Memphis 296-294-306 -- 896 +32; t14. Middle Tennessee State 295-299-302 -- 896 +32; 16. Tulane 301-297-299 -- 897 +33; 17. Georgia Southern 301-297-306 -- 9-4 +40; 18. Maryland 303-298-305 -- 906 +42

John Humphries, LSU, 71-69-71 -- 211 -5; 2. Matt LeConche, Central Florida, 75-69-69 -- 213 -3; 3. Bruce McDonald, College of Charleston, 70-70-74 -- 214 -2; t4. Jose Campra, Jacksonville State, 74-70-71 -- 215 -1; t4. Jeremiah Shields, Arkansas State, 73-70-72 -- 215 -1; t4. Shane Birckbichler, Furman, 72-72-71 -- 215 -1; t4. Kyle Bradley, College of Charleston, 70-72-73 -- 215 -1


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