Elliott, McNeese Cowboys capture La. Classics titles

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LAFAYETTE – McNeese carried it’s momentum from Monday’s first and second rounds of the Louisiana Classics into Tuesday’s final round as the Cowboys shot a 1-under par 282 on the day to capture the team championship while senior Blake Elliott closed out the last 18 holes with a 4-under 68 to help him win the individual title with a 5-under 211 through 54 holes.

The win is the first team victory for the Cowboys since winning the 2017 Southland Conference championships and the first-ever team and individual win for the program at the Louisiana Classics.

The victory included a team win over 26th-ranked Illinois, who finished second behind McNeese with an 870.

“We met as a team after last week’s tournament and I challenged the guys to practice and play each shot like it’s their very best,” said interim-head coach Mike Fluty. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of their focus and effort this week.”

The Cowboys’ 282 in round three was the fourth-lowest round in tournament history according to the tourney program while Elliott’s 54-hole total of 211 is tied as the 38th-lowest in tournament history.

In addition to Elliott’s finish, Jack Hearn tied for ninth overall with a 2-over 218; Reid Giardina tied for 13th with a 3-over 219; Sutton Farmer tied for 18th at 5-over 221; and Nick Mattner tied for 45th with a 9-over 225.

The five players combined to shoot 18 birdies on the day and 52 for the tournament, ranking second among the 15 teams.

“We put some birdies up today,” said Fluty. “You’re not going to win any tournaments without making birdies.”

McNeese and Illinois stayed pretty much within 1-3 strokes of each other for most of the day but the Cowboys were able to pull away for the 7-stroke win late after combining to go 4-under par on the last four holes played as a group.

Starting on hole No. 1, Elliott got to 3-under for the round quickly with three birdies through the first five holes. He then went bogey, birdie, bogey to fall to 2-under through nine but rallied with birdies on 10 and 11 while making par the rest of the way to capture the individual title.

Hearn posted his best finish as a Cowboy and shot a 1-under 71 on the day while Mattner ended the tournament with a 1-under 71. Farmer shot a 72 for the final round and Giardina a 74.

The victory came after the first two tournaments of the spring where the Cowboys finished 13th and 10th respectively.

“In our team meeting after the last tournament, I told the guys that if we keep playing like we are then we’re not going to do much this season,” said Fluty. “We had great practices this week and it carried over into the tournament.”

Elliott, who is ranked No. 35 in the nation individually, edged out Bryan Baumgarten of Illinois and UTSA’s Collin Clark by one stroke to win his second career title.

The Cowboys will be back in action March 18-19 when they host the Lake Charles Invitational at the Country Club at Golden Nugget.

Final Team Scores: 1, McNeese 290-291-282 – 863; 2, Illinois 295-290-285 – 870; 3, UTSA 289-293-297 – 879; 4, Kent State 303-291-287 – 881; 5, UMKC 296-302-285 – 883; 6, Texas State 297-295-294 – 886; 7, Oral Roberts 305-296-289 – 890; 8, Louisiana Tech 301-296-294 – 891; 9, Sam Houston State 294-310-292 – 896; 10, North Texas 298-301-299 – 898; 11, ULL 304-295-300 – 899; T12, Southern Miss 296-301-304 – 901; T12, Toledo 307-297-297 – 901; 14, Rice 312-296-298 – 906; 15, Wichita State 310-308-295 – 913.

McNeese Individual Scores: 1, Blake Elliott 75-68-68 – 211; T9, Jack Hearn 73-74-71 – 218; T13, Reid Giardina 68-77-74 – 219; T18, Sutton Farmer 77-72-72 – 221; T45, Nick Mattner 74-80-71 – 225.

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