Former LSU golfers Looper, Taylor earn status

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BATON ROUGE – Former LSU Tigers Ken Looper and Ben Taylor were among 52 golfers improving their Tour status for the 2017 season at the Tour Q School Finals this weekend as Looper tied for eighth place and Taylor tied for 19th place in the event held at Orange County National in Winter Garden, Florida.

Former Tiger All-American Zach Wright also featured in the Tour Q School Finals where he earned conditional status for the upcoming 2017 season by tying for 89th place in the field of 155 players.

Each competitor played two rounds each at the Orange County National’s par-72 Crooked Cat and par-71 Panther Lake courses in the four-day, 72-hole qualifying final that wrapped up with Sunday’s final round.

Looper teed off in his final round just three shots off the top spot of the leaderboard at 8-under par through 54 holes, and finished inside the Top 10 in a tie for eighth place with a final-round 1-under 71 at the Crooked Cat course for a total score of 9-under par 277. He also fired rounds of 3-under 68 and 4-under 67 in the first and third rounds at the Panther Lake course around a 1-under 71 at Crooked Cat in the second round.

Taylor finished just two shots behind his fellow former Tiger in a tie for 19th place overall with a four-day total of 7-under par 279, including a bogey-free 5-under 66 at the Panther Lake course in Sunday’s final round. In his final round, Taylor birdied each of the four par-fives on the course at Nos. 2, 10, 14 and 18 along with a birdie at the par-four third hole to move himself 14 spots up the final leaderboard and inside the Top 20.

Taylor, who holed the title-clinching putt in LSU’s victory over the USC Trojans in the 2015 NCAA Championship Match, broke par three times on the weekend as he posted rounds of 3-under 69 in the first round and 2-under 70 in the third round at Crooked Cat along with a 3-over 74 in Friday’s second round at Panther Lake.

“It was very similar,” Taylor said in comparing the pressure of playing for a national championship and also Tour status. “I was in a situation where I needed to perform, and I needed to further my career after having played quite well. I just did what I did back then, took it one shot at a time and took the birdies when they fell. I’m happy to have secured by card.”

Jim Renner earned fully-exempt status on the Tour for the 2017 season with his three-shot victory over Taylor Moore at the Tour Q School Finals as he posted a winning score of 17-under par.

Players finishing from second place through 10th place, including ties, earned guaranteed entry into the first 12 events of the 2017 Tour Regular Season through the Air Capital Classic scheduled for June 15-18. Players finishing 11th through 45th, including ties, earned guaranteed entry into the first eight events of the year through the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship scheduled for May 4-7.

Looper, who played for the Tigers as a senior during the 2010-11 season, will compete with exempt status on the Tour for the first time in his professional career after playing the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica for each of the last two seasons. In 2016, Looper made 11 cuts in 13 events while earning two top-10 finishes as a member of the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica.

While playing his first professional season as a member of Mackenzie Tour in Canada, Taylor made the cut in his debut in a PGA TOUR event while tying for 48th place at the 2016 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Wright’s weekend at the Tour Q School Finals was highlighted by firing a 2-under 70 at the Crooked Cat course in Saturday’s third round to put himself in position to challenge for a top-45 finish heading to the final round on Sunday. He added scores of even-par 71 and 2-over 73 in the first and final rounds at Panther Lake around a 2-over 74 at Crooked Cat in the second round for a final score of 2-over par 288.

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