Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Ben Taylor from Surrey helps Louisiana State 

win NCAA Division 1 championship

Louisiana State University has won the NCAA men's Division 1 championship for the first time since 1955.
They beat Southern California University 4-1 in the match-play final at Bradenton, Florida.

The LSU team included Ben Taylor (pictured) from Leatherhead, Surrey, a transfer in from Nova Southeastern. Taylor was a senior in the LSU team, i.e. in his final college year.

Ben Taylor holed winning putt .. again!

England’s Ben Taylor holed the winning putt to seal his university’s victory in the biggest championship on the US college circuit.
Taylor, from Walton Heath in Surrey, rolled in a nine-foot par putt on the last hole to win his match by one hole and score the deciding point in the men’s NCAA Championship at The Concession Club in Florida.
The win capped his college career and gave Louisiana State University (LSU) their fifth victory in the championship, but their first for 60 years.
Taylor, who also scored the deciding point in Tuesday's semi-final, said afterwards in a television interview: “It was a perfect moment to end a perfect college career, and I couldn’t be more happy.
“I’m emotional and don’t even know what else to say. It’s been a great day, and what a finish to my American college career. I’m so happy, just a great feeling.” 
The 22-year-old  was watched by his parents throughout the final match. He was  two up in the early stages but after losing three straight holes, from the 11th, he went one down.
That’s where Taylor stayed until the 17th, where both players put their drives in good positions on the reachable par five. Taylor knew his opponent would probably make birdie and fired a 4-iron from 258 yards to within five feet of the hole. He duly holed the putt for eagle and squared the match.
On the 18th, the door was opened when his opponent bogeyed the hole and Taylor, who had left his birdie putt well short, made no mistake.
Taylor is a member of the England Golf men’s squad and is an England international who has won on the US college circuit.

To view the individual details of the Final



LSU lands national title after years spent cultivating golf program

LSU's Brandon Pierce poses for friends and family with the trophy after they won the 2015 Men's NCAA Championship at The Concession in Bradenton, Fla.
LSU's Brandon Pierce poses for friends and family with the trophy after they won the 2015 Men's NCAA Championship at The Concession in Bradenton, Fla. ( Tracy Wilcox )
BRADENTON, Florida  – After senior Ben Taylor sank the clinching putt for LSU to defeat USC and win the NCAA team championship, sophomore Brandon Pierce grabbed the trophy and held it tight.
“He hasn’t stopped hugging that thing since he picked it up,” LSU’s athletic director Joe Alleva said.
And for good reason. A year ago, while Pierce’s teammates were losing in the semi-finals to eventual champions Alabama, he was sidelined with a stress fracture to his L-5 vertebrae. He wore a brace and didn’t touch a club for seven months.
His ability to recover and play a leadership role in the team’s rise to its first team title in 60 years mirrors the rise of the Louisiana State University program since Chuck Winstead, a member of the men’s golf team from 1989-91, took over as head coach 10 years ago.
“I wanted to try to build something special here at LSU,” Winstead said. “It’s been 10 years of a lot of these guys working hard. We fail over and over, and we try to learn.”
To hear Winstead describe it, they failed and they learned quite a bit in the early years. He took over a program that, he quipped, hadn’t won a men’s title since the days of black-and-white TV. The year was 1955 and gas (petrol) cost 23 cents a gallon. The first McDonald’s had just opened. Winstead graduated from the program in 1991, and opened the Chuck Winstead Golf Academy at the University Club in Baton Rouge in 2000.
By the time he took the helm as men’s golf coach, he said the team ranked 87th or 88th in the country. It was a long way from where he wanted to be.
“When it’s going the wrong way like it was at LSU, you have to hold on to the train for a long time just to get it to stop,” he explained. “Just hold on, hold on, until you can get it to stop. Then you have to turn it around. Then it takes a while to build speed.”
Winstead had a plan. But when asked to name the turning point for the program on the eve of the title match, he astutely dodged the question.
“I didn’t answer it because I don’t really know the correct answer,” he said. “I knew I didn’t answer it, but I have thought about it a bunch.”
One day later, the title firmly in his grasp, he took another stab at it.
“You have to have talented players,” he said. “It takes all the other things – the right schedule to ready yourself for post-season play, the right practice facility (he got a state-of-the-art one in 2011)…”
Winstead paused as if he knew his sum-is-greater-than-the-parts response didn’t quite make his point so he tried again.
“It’s like a bucket. You put a drop in the bucket and it’s not a big deal. Brand new range balls on the driving range mean nothing. Unless it’s one drop,” he said. “You play a top-10 schedule in the country before you’re a top-10 team. Before long the bucket will fill.”
A lot of quality kids contributed to LSU’s rise, he said, including John Peterson, who won the individual title in 2011. Last year at Prairie Dunes, LSU made match play for the first time and advanced to the Final Four. It was the school’s best NCAA finish since 1967 and first top-10 finish since 1987. Another drop in the bucket but still short of the ultimate goal. “Fail and learn,” Winstead said.
The Tigers won the title a year later despite losing Smylie Kaufman, who already has a win to his credit on the Tour event, and Curtis Thompson. Winstead plugged those holes with sophomores from Louisiana, Eric Ricard from Shreveport and Pierce of Covington.
“Those two sophomores right there? Really good,” Winstead said. “They are probably the best two players in the country that people don’t know.”
Through 36 holes at the New Haven regional, second-seeded LSU sat in 10th place, 11 shots back of fifth place. Behind a 65 from Taylor, the Tigers rallied to grab the final NCAA Championship berth available at this regional. Another drop in the bucket.
Winstead described his team as five interchangeable parts. There was no superstar. Each member stepped up to contribute at some point in time. Take senior Stewart Jolly, who opened stroke play by posting 82-82. Winstead stood behind Jolly on the range after both rounds and let him know that he was going to need his senior All-American to produce. And he did, shooting 72 in the fourth round. “Without that we don’t even make match play,” Winstead said.
Without junior Zach Wright going undefeated in match play (he’s now a perfect 5-0), they might not have reached such lofty heights. Talent hasn’t been a problem for LSU, and it likely won’t be anytime soon.
It’s too soon to start thinking about a title defence, but the loss of Taylor and Jolly won’t leave the cupboard bare. Winstead has 2015 signees Sam Burns, the No. 1-ranked Golfweek junior, Nathan Jeansonne and Luis Gagne, and Philip Barbaree to look forward to in 2017. All are blue-chip recruits (Carter Toms, son of LSU alum and PGA champ David Toms, also is a 2016 commit).
It takes more than just talent to win a national title. It takes a coach who knows how to get the best out of his players. Winstead knew that Taylor, the senior transfer from England, had struggled during stroke play. So he walked with him all three days of match play.
“He needed someone who believed in him when he hit a bad shot,” Winstead said.
“I couldn’t have done it without coach,” Taylor said.
It was Winstead who told him to hit 4-iron from 258 yards at the 17th hole when he trailed one down in his match with USC’s Bobby Gojuangco.
“I wasn’t sure the 4-iron would get there,” Taylor said. “He promised me it would.”
It did, and he made eagle to win the hole and canned the winning putt on 18 to secure the 4-1 victory. At last, LSU’s bucket overflowed.