This week, LSU golf battled 13 SEC teams in the Blessings Invitational Tournament in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
This competition presented several anomalies for college golf. All three rounds of the tournament were covered by the Golf Channel, which added intensity to stakes that ordinarily would have been lacking.
Blessings Invitational did not permit any spectators, but prior to the pandemic, college golf did not draw the crowds of people that, say, football does. The quiet presented a familiar challenge for teams to add their own excitement.
The Blessings golf course is a painstaking task. There were not many low scores this tournament. However, for the Tigers, Ingrid Lindblad rose to the occasion and demonstrated why she is worthy of being named to the Annika Award watch list.
The Annika Award is delegated to the most outstanding female collegiate golfer. Lindblad led the women’s team to second place, contributing to the team with an overall score of 5-under (211). Lindblad was also in contention for the lowest individual female score. She came in second, behind Brooke Matthews of Arkansas, who posted a score of 10-under (206).
However, Lindblad’s 5-under score, was not enough to fuel the women’s team to victory. The squad finished in second place, falling to Arkansas by 18 strokes. Sophomore Latanna Stone, who is also on the Annika Award watch list, helped secure the team's second-place standing, shooting 2-over (218). Both Lindblad and Stone are young, dominant players who have displayed the skills to have a tremendous year.
Jessica Bailey and Carla Tejedo Mulet made their debuts for the Tigers this week. Both meshed well with the team and adjusted confidently swinging for the purple and gold. Bailey, a native of England, is a transfer from Daytona State, where she sharpened her skills and knowledge to play SEC golf for LSU. Bailey shot a 18-over (234) for the tournament.
Mulet is a freshman from Spain, the only rookie on the team. She battled during the first round, shooting a 78, 6-over par. Bound to show coaches that she was worthy of maintaining a travel spot for the squad, she shot a 75, 3-over par in the second round. Keeping the streak of improvement, Mulet finished round three with a score of 9-over (225 overall), finishing in the top-30 for individual women score.
The men’s squad came in tied for seventh place, with a score of +19 (883). The Tigers were led by senior Trey Winstead who contributed a score of +3-over (219) for the tournament. Winstead was named to the Haskins Award watch list this summer, and his performance this week helped prove his case of why he deserves it. The Haskins Award is comparable to the Heisman award for football; it is presented to the most outstanding male collegiate golfer.
Winstead received help from junior Garret Barber, who posted an overall score of 3-over (219). Barber’s third round was highlighted with a low score of 72, even-par. The team did not receive the anticipated help from senior Philip Barbaree. Barbaree posted a score of 10-over (226).
With the first tournament of the 2020-2021 golf season now complete, the Tigers will look ahead to the next tournament. On Oct. 25, the men’s team will travel to Nashville, Tennessee, to compete in the Vanderbilt Legends Intercollegiate Tournament, hosted at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
The women’s team will travel to West Point, Mississippi, for The Ally Tournament, hosted by Mississippi State, at the Old Waverly Golf Course on Oct. 19.
The fall season is now underway, and coaches will have to determine what their strengths are and what needs improvement. The Blessings Invitational was a unique tournament. It was the first college tournament to be played during the pandemic, and it will set a precedent for the remainder of the season for safety regulations and health protocols. Additionally, the tournament was the only competition that will receive national coverage from the Golf Channel this fall.
Although the Tigers did not claim gold this week, they will continue to improve over the course of the season. A positive mindset is extremely beneficial and both players and coaches will have to remain optimistic. A common mental lapse in golf is getting flustered with the results of a previous hole, but the stars of the sport have mastered the ability to see a new hole with a fresh, untainted mindset.