LSU's Pierce undergoes neck surgery after accident

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Brandon Pierce, an integral part of LSU’s NCAA Championship team, underwent neck surgery Saturday after a swimming accident near his Baton Rouge apartment. 

The rising junior, who went 2-0-1 in match play for the Tigers as they captured their first NCAA title since 1955, broke a vertebra in his neck when he dove into a shallow pond.    

The school said Pierce, 20, is expected to make a full recovery and that the injury will not affect his golf career. LSU coach Chuck Winstead said that Pierce likely will miss the next two to three months.

“I am just thankful it isn’t worse and he is going to be back with us playing soon,” Winstead said in an email.

The coach described it as a “freak accident.”

A day after the Tigers defeated Southern Cal in the NCAA Championship final, Pierce was swimming in a pond when he dove and hit his head on the bottom. The injury wasn’t thought to be serious, but the pain didn’t subside.

The next day, Pierce joined his teammates at the State Capitol, where they were recognized for their NCAA title, but Winstead noticed that Pierce was in discomfort. An MRI and CT scan later that day revealed the fracture, and Pierce underwent surgery Saturday.

This is the second major injury for Pierce in the past 14 months

Last spring, he suffered a stress fracture in his back and was sidelined eight months. When he returned to the Tigers lineup this spring, he was arguably the team’s best player, finishing in the top-30 in all eight starts, including a T-11 at the NCAA Championship. He ended the season ranked 23rd in the country.