With little doubt about who would win the team title heading into the final day of the LSU Tiger Golf Classic, or so it seemed, there was only one question left to be answered Sunday at University Club.
That was who would claim medalist honors in the three-day event that featured three of the nation’s top 11 women’s teams — including No. 6 LSU, which carried a 13-stroke lead over Tulane into the final round.
LSU had its first title on its home course since 2005 in hand midway through the round before hanging on for a five-shot win over 11th-ranked Mississippi State — posting a 15-over 879 to State’s 884. TCU (895) was third, while Tulane (897) settled for fourth.
An anticipated duel for medalist honors between Lady Tigers teammates Madelene Sagstrom, the second-round leader after a 5-under 67 Saturday, and Elise Bradley, who was two shots back, never materialized — leaving Bradley and State’s Rica Tse to battle down the stretch for the crown.
Bradley, a junior from Mandeville and the reigning Louisiana Women’s State Amateur champion, tied Tse with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th green, then claimed her first college title with a par on the second playoff hole.
“I’m excited … I’ve never really been in that position in a college tournament,” said Bradley, who has bounced back strong from a tough sophomore season. “I was third in Puerto Rico, but I was quite a few shots back. This is just a big confidence-booster for me, because now I know I can do it.”
It was especially big because nothing came easy when the wind kicked up after players enjoyed ideal scoring conditions on Saturday. The field averaged 76.94 on Saturday; on Sunday, with the wind blowing around 15 mph, it was 77.89.
“We really didn’t play our best today, but going wire-to-wire you sometimes put pressure on yourself,” LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said after recording her 39th career victory. “Not only that, but the conditions were harder today.”
Among those who struggled was Sagstrom, the nation’s fourth-ranked player. She bogeyed the third hole, then, after reaching the par 5 sixth in two, three-putted for par and wasn’t the same after that.
“I didn’t make any putts early and I got frustrated,” said Sagstrom, who shot a 76 (216) and finished third. “I ruined it for myself, basically. The three-putt made me mad and it went downhill from there.”
After carding a 4-under 68 Saturday, Bradley had an even-par 72 to close the tournament at 2-under 214. Tse, who had a one-shot lead going to the 18th hole, fired a 69 — the day’s low round — to also finish at 214.
Playing in the same group with Tse, Bradley had a two-shot lead heading to the 15th tee before a double-bogey and bogey gave Tse a one-shot edge.
Bradley’s tee shot at No. 18 avoided the pond that guards the left side of the fairway by about five yards, causing a few nervous moments.
“That was a little too close for comfort,” Bradley said later.
After settling herself, her approach shot from 127 yards landed above the hole, setting up a tricky downhill putt on the fast green while Tse had a 12-foot uphill attempt for the win.
Tse’s birdie try slid left before Bradley poured hers into the cup for only the fifth birdie of the day there, setting up the playoff. She won with a 1½-foot par putt at No. 11 after both parred the first extra hole.
“This is really big because I struggled so much last year,” said Bradley, whose best finish last season was a tie for 36th. “But I had a good summer and it led to a good fall.”
And now, an even better spring.