US Open Golf

Former LSU golfer Luis Gagne tees off on the 14th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y. 

Former LSU golfer Luis Gagne is heading back the U.S. Open — and this time no coin flip was needed.

Gagne tied for third Monday in 36-hole final qualifying at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida, taking one of six spots available for 78 golfers.

Gagne will compete next week in the 121st U.S. Open, June 17-20 at Torrey Pines South in LaJolla, California. He also played in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Asked if having qualifying experience helps, Gagne said: “If anything, it gets harder. It’s a super-long day on a really tough course.”

Gagne joins former LSU teammate Sam Burns in the 156-man field. Burns, who won his first PGA Tour event at the Valspar Championship in May, got an exemption for being ranked in the top 60 in the world (currently No. 38) as of May 24. Former University High golfer Patrick Reed is also in on multiple exemptions, including being the 2018 Masters champion.

The Bear’s Club is the same course where Gagne won what was then called sectional qualifying in 2018. He got there by making it through local qualifying in his hometown of Orlando, Florida, snagging the last of five qualifying spots by winning a coin toss.

That wasn’t the case this time — “Just good playing,” Gagne said — not that there wasn’t drama.

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“The first round I played well but didn’t have a lot to show for it and shot 1 over,” Gagne said. “The second round I started par-bogey-bogey and thought, ‘This isn’t ideal.’ I figured I needed to shoot 3-5 under on the back nine.”

He made four birdies on the inward half to shoot 69 and finish in a four-way tie for third at 2 under 142.

The only dilemma facing Gagne now is whether to head to Torrey Pines this week to practice or stay in Florida for a Latinoamerica Tour event in Miami. Gagne holds dual status on the PGA Tour’s Mackenzie (Canada) and Latinoamerica tours.

Two other LSU golfers — rising senior Garrett Barber and former Tiger Brandon Pierce of Covington — also played in Jupiter. Barber, from Stuart, Florida, finished at 149 and Pierce was at 151.

Three LSU players were among 72 golfers playing for five spots at the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta. Tiger signee Cohen Trolio of West Point, Mississippi, shot 140, four strokes outside the last qualifying score. Rising junior Connor Gaunt of Cabot, Arkansas, shot 145 and rising senior Trey Winstead, son of LSU director of golf Chuck Winstead, shot 148.

Former Tiger and former PGA touring pro Andrew Loupe tied for 20th at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. Five players in a 71-man field qualified there. Another former Tiger, Ben Taylor of England, was attempting to qualify at two courses in Columbus, Ohio, but was still playing The Lakes Golf and Country Club as darkness fell in a tie for 32nd. Sixteen spots were up for grabs there among 120 players.

Another former Tiger and PGA touring pro, Smylie Kaufman of Birmingham, Alabama, took part in qualifying May 24 at Dallas Athletic Club but withdrew after a first-round 74.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com