The best postseason in years for the LSU men’s golf team finally came to an end Tuesday as the Tigers fell to Alabama 4-1 in the NCAA Championship semifinals at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Earlier in the day, LSU advanced out of the first round of match play competition with a 4-1 quarterfinals win over UCLA.
The Tigers tied for third with top-seeded Stanford, which lost Tuesday’s other semifinal 3-2 to Oklahoma State.
It is LSU’s first top-10 NCAA finish since 1989 and the Tigers’ best NCAA showing since finishing third in 1967.
LSU coach Chuck Winstead, who played on that 1989 team that tied for eighth nationally, was disappointed after his team failed to advance to Wednesday’s final but reflected positively on how the Tigers’ did.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Winstead said. “It’s been a heck of a run.
“It’s disappointing because when you’re a competitor you don’t want to lose. But stepping back from it I’m proud of the advancement in the program and our player’s work ethic, how they go about their business and how hard they compete.”
The Tigers’ finished a distant second to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championships, 16 strokes out of first place.
But it was a school record final round 17-under 263 that jump started LSU in the postseason. The Tigers tied for second in stroke play in the NCAA Championship with Alabama, earning the No. 3 seed among the eight teams that advanced to Tuesday’s match play.
Against UCLA, LSU jumped in front quickly and held off the Bruins the rest of the way.
“Ben Taylor got a point early, and Curtis Thompson hung in there,” Winstead said. “He didn’t have his best stuff today but ended up getting a point at the end.”
In the Alabama match, Taylor fell early to Bobby Wyatt 3 and 2, while Zach Wright stayed ahead of Cory Whitsett and eventually won 1 up.
Curtis Thompson lost to Trey Mullinax 4 and 2. LSU needed to win the last two matches and was in them both until the closing holes, but Robby Shelton beat Stewart Jolly 2 and 1 while Tom Lovelady edged Kaufman 1 up.
“We definitely had our chances the last three or four holes,” Winstead said.
The future appears bright for the LSU golf team, which only loses Kaufman off its NCAA squad and is bringing in some high-profile recruits.
“It’s been a while since LSU golf has had the success we’ve had this year,” Winstead said. “It’s just been a gradual, steady improvement. Hopefully people can say they’re proud of what we’re doing.”
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.