LSU golfer cards her first win in Parrish

PARRISH -- Austin Ernst had never won a college golf tournament before.

That is until now.

The LSU freshman carded an even-par 72 for a 3-under 213 total to win the individual title Tuesday at the NCAA Central District Invitational at River Wilderness Golf and Country Club.

Ernst’s performance helped the Tigers to second place in the team standings for the two-day, 54-hole tournament hosted by Michigan State.

Iowa State won the team title after posting a collective 5-under in the final round. The Cyclones shot 4-over, 868 for a nine-shot victory.

While Iowa State was lighting up the Parrish course, Ernst was doing the same with her steady play.

She said she missed six greens between the three rounds.

Not bad for a freshman playing in LSU’s first spring season tournament.

And certainly not bad for someone who said she didn’t play much during the fall slate.

“I didn’t get into the lineup in the first two (in the fall), and then I got a top 10 in my first college tournament,” said the South Carolina native, who had just two bogeys and a double in 54 holes.

All those greens in regulation added up to several chances at birdie for Ernst.

She made good throughout the three rounds -- never carding an over-par round.

However, Ernst was in a duel with Texas Christian University’s Brooke Beeler, who set the Horned Frogs program record with an opening 65.

Beeler said that round was her lowest ever in college.

She still held a small lead after a 73 in Monday’s second round. But she faltered with a 76 in the third round.

“I couldn’t get anything to roll in for me,” Beeler said. “Everything was rolling over the edge. I was right there. I mean, you can’t do anything about that.”

Meanwhile, Ernst kept playing solid, but she said she thought the tournament was lost after a double bogey on No. 18. Her teammate, Megan McChrystal gave her the good news.

“Megan gave me a hug and said, ‘You pulled it out by one,’” Ernst said. “And I was, like, there’s no way.”

The tournament was in its 11th year.

Next year, River Wilderness member and Michigan State alumnus Russ Petrie said he plans to have an alumni tournament prior to the event.

Michigan’s Caramia Sitompul, a former Bradenton Prep standout, returned to the area and tied for 25th with a 9-over 225.

Susana Benavides (Ohio State/IMG Academies) and So-Hyun Park (Notre Dame/Bradenton Prep) also played.

Other participating teams included Texas A&M, Northwestern, Kent State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Indiana, Baylor and Missouri.