Tiger Classic women’s golf tournament tees off with strong field

Nine of the nation’s top 50 women’s golf teams are set to tee off Friday morning in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic at the University Club.

Last year, Tennessee held off a charge by LSU to win. Tennessee’s Erica Popson ended up in a tie for the medalist honors with North Carolina’s Catherine O’Donnell.

Tennessee, ranked 29 in the Golfstat rankings, and Popson, the top-rated player in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, are back to defend in a field of 14 teams that will play 18 holes each day through Sunday.

Others in the field with Tennessee are: Arkansas, the top ranked team at No. 8; Georgia (18); North Carolina State (20); Tulane (25); LSU (30); Kentucky (36); Florida State (43); and Ole Miss (48). The rest of the field is comprised of the University of Louisiana-Monroe, UNC Wilmington, Missouri and TCU.

“I am so looking forward to it,” LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said. “The golf course is in great shape. The greens are extremely fast, but they are holding very well. I’m really excited about the field. I enjoy doing this tournament with the college-am (on Thursday).”

Right behind Popson in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings is a slate of Southeastern Conference golfers. LSU’s Madelene Sagstrom is ranked No. 19 nationally. Arkansas’ Gaby Lopez is ranked No. 29, Georgia’s Emilie Burger No. 35 and Manuela Carbajo Re No. 40.

Sagstrom is coming off the best tournament of her two-year career, a second place in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at the Long Cove Club at Hilton Head Island, S.C. She posted rounds of 71-67-75 for an even-par 213. The Lady Tigers come off their best tournament of the season at Rucker, finishing second, four shots behind Alabama.

“I think the girls are ready,” Bahnsen said. “The last two tournaments really have given them a lot of confidence, and they feel like they can compete. The girls are excited about being at home, but that’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes the girls can come out and put a little too much pressure on themselves in a situation like this.”

It’s a matter of handling that, setting down and playing some golf. It’s just a matter of playing smart. That’s our goal this week to play very intelligent golf.”

LSU has won the tournament seven times, the last in 2001. Megan McChrystal, in 2010, was the last of eight LSU golfers to win the individual title.

The first tee times Friday are at 8:30 a.m. off hole No. 10 and will feature ULM. Tulane goes off the 10th tee at 9:20 a.m. with Mississippi and Missouri.

The first hole tee times begin at 9 a.m. with Wake Forest, Georgia and North Carolina State in the opening wave. The feature wave of the morning will begin at 10 a.m. with Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU going off the first tee with Popson and Sagstrom playing in the final threesome at 10:50 a.m. with Ashleigh Albrecht.

The U-Club course will play at the same 6,305 yard, par 72 setup that was used a year ago for the event.