Luis Gagne is aiming for history.
The LSU senior returns for his final semester this spring, seeking to become the first Tigers golfer to become a four-time All-American.
That said, the Tigers are hardly a one-man team. Their depth was on display during a four-tournament fall season in which four players took individual medalist honors, including a win from LSU coach Chuck Winstead’s son Trey in the Tigers’ own David Toms Intercollegiate at the University Club in October.
“I like my guys,” Chuck Winstead said.
LSU owns a No. 16 national ranking as it enters the season’s first tournament, The Prestige at PGA West in La Quinta, California, which starts Monday. But that doesn’t really reflect the kind of team Winstead feels he has in his 14th season as LSU’s coach.
“We return four guys off last year’s team that won the stroke play portion of the SEC tournament and was a No. 1 NCAA (regional) seed,” Winstead said. “And we’ve got some freshmen who need to have more experience in the team environment but are very talented.
“A lot of players on the roster are playing real good golf, but it’s early. We want to keep trying to refine our game and see where (the) year takes us.”
Gagne’s game nearly took him to this year’s Masters tournament. He had the lead in January in the final round of the Latin America Amateur Championship in the Dominican Republic but finished in second, two strokes back of Alvaro Ortiz in the quest for the event’s one and only Masters invitation.
Still, it has been a brilliant amateur career for Gagne, who was the low amateur at the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and made the round of 32 in the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. His career stroke average of 71.52 ranks as the second-best in program history.
Despite Gagne’s skills, it was one of those talented freshmen Winstead spoke of, North Carolina native Michael Sanders, who led the Tigers in the fall with a pair of top-five finishes and a 70.83-stroke average. Shreveport junior Philip Barbaree had a fall average of 71.17, while Trey Winstead was at 71.42.
Going forward in the spring, Chuck Winstead said his players have to find the right synergy to be the kind of team that can follow in the footsteps of his 2015 Tigers, who won the NCAA team title.
“What makes great teams are not only the front-runners but the ones who struggle that week and gut it out and make pars and find a way,” he said. “When you’re on a team, that matters.”
Winstead is looking for bigger things this spring from freshman Garrett Barber.
Barber had a decent first semester with a 73.44-stroke average in three events (including a third in the David Toms) but came to LSU with exceptional amateur credentials.
The Stuart, Florida, native scored the winning point for the U.S. team in the 2017 Junior Presidents Cup, won the U.S. Amateur Four Ball last year with Texas freshman Cole Hammer and made the cut in the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic in November.
The Tigers do not have a home event in the spring. After a five-tournament schedule, they head to St. Simons Island, Georgia, for the SEC Championship. They will then be assigned to a regional and hope to advance to the NCAA Championships, May 24-29 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
2019 LSU men’s spring golf schedule
Date Event Location
Monday-Wednesday The Prestige at PGA West La Quinta, California
March 3-5 Querencia Cabo Collegiate Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
March 17-19 Valspar Collegiate Invitational Palm City, Florida
April 6-7 Aggie Invitational Bryan, Texas
April 15-16 Shoal Creek Invitational Birmingham, Alabama
April 24-28 SEC Championship St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 13-15 NCAA regional TBD
May 24-29 NCAA Championships Fayetteville, Arkansas