Strong Sunday but Gophers still at the bottom of the pack

Minnesota tied for the low score on the final day but still finished 13th of 15 teams.

The Minnesota men’s golf team probably didn’t arrive in Las Vegas expecting the course it was playing to have greens that rivaled the U.S. Open in terms of speed.

But that’s what the Gophers got and it took them awhile to adjust.

“As coaches, we didn’t do a good job preparing our kids for the speed of the greens,” director of golf Brad James said.

That lack of preparation knocked Minnesota into an early hole it could not climb out of, and the Gophers landed in 13th place out of 15 teams at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship after carding a 44-over par 908 in the three-day tournament.

For the second weekend in a row, Minnesota failed to have a golfer crack the top 20, as its best individual finisher was senior Clayton Rask, who tied for 36th with a 10-over 226.

The story the final results don’t tell, however, is what the Gophers did on Sunday.

Minnesota apparently solved the greens in the final round and closed with a 5-over 293, matching tournament champion UNLV and second-place Charlotte for the low score on the day.

Freshman Mikael Salminen also fired the second-best individual round Sunday, a 1-under 71 to bump him to a tie for 43rd with sophomore Ben Pisani and 6 others.

The Gophers’ final-day performance is especially impressive considering the caliber of the field at Southern Highlands, which boasted 11 teams in the Golfweek Top 50, but Rask wasn’t surprised.

“We know we can play with (top teams) on any given day,” he said. “It’s just a matter getting our guys to do it.”

Women third in Arizona

The Minnesota women’s team found itself in a completely different place Sunday than it was a week and a half earlier in Puerto Rico.

Whereas the Gophers sat at the bottom of the pack all weekend at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, they were very much in contention coming into the final round Sunday at the Rio Verde Invitational.

And though Minnesota was overtaken by Texas Tech, it still finished alone in third in Arizona with a three day total of 30-over 894.

It was the Gophers lowest 54-hole total in school history, bettering the 902 posted in the Gopher Fall Invitational by Minnesota’s 1985 squad.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the charge was led by a pair of freshmen. Mary Narzisi recorded a 3-over 219 to tie for third and Teresa Puga tied for seventh in only her second collegiate tournament after a 6-over 222.

Associate head coach Kristine Wessinger was extremely encouraged by the performance of her young golfers.

“It’s good to see the younger players do well,” she said. “I think it was exciting to have two of our freshmen finish in the top ten.”