Gophers show grit in final round of Minnesota Invitational

The Gophers climbed four spots in the standings after struggling during the first round.

Freshman Grace Kellar drives the ball during the Minnesota Invitational on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Ellen Schmidt

Freshman Grace Kellar drives the ball during the Minnesota Invitational on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Logan Moe

The Gophers women’s golf team kicked off their season at home on Monday, hosting the Minnesota Invitational at Prestwick Golf Club. But through 18 holes, the Gophers found themselves in last place among 15 teams, with no home-field advantage to speak of. 

The Gophers quickly faced adversity falling behind in the team leaderboard on Monday. Although behind, the team was able to find stability through a steady performance from freshman Emma Carpenter. Carpenter was able to shoot a 2-over-par 74, placing her tied for 29th through 18 holes. The Gophers finished the first round of team play with a discouraging combined score of 307, and would look to head into Tuesday’s final round of play with a chip on their shoulder. 

Despite the disheartening first round performance, Head Coach Michele Redman had high praise for her freshman and team as a whole.

“[The freshman] will complement the team well,” Redman said, adding that she believes the collective team is more competitive this year than teams of past seasons. 

Due to unfortunate weather conditions, the tournament was forced to cancel the third round of play, reducing the tournament to 36 holes. It was the first time the tournament has been reduced in its seven-year history. 

Despite being down, it was evident that the Gophers had something to prove during Tuesday’s final round, and did so by putting up some impressive final round scores. Led by a strong performance from junior Kate Lillie, the team was able to claw its way back to finish in 11th place with a combined second round score of 288. Lillie matched her best 18-hole score, shooting 69 and finished with a personal best finish, tied for 12th. 

“It’s always such a blast to be able to compete at home, everyone here at Prestwick is so supportive,” Lillie said. “[I] put myself in great situations to succeed, especially when I was able to make eagle,” later adding that it was nice to see “everybody feed off each other’s good vibes and energy.”

Redman relayed her excitement for Lillie’s play.

“[I] loved that Kate went low today, 3-under-par is a really good score,” Redman said. “It is important to have positive reactions in tough situations, and that positive mindset can carry over to other teammates.”

The Gophers singles group consisted of juniors Grace Kellar and Jessica Lee, as well as sophomore Karen Zhang. Kellar managed a combined score of 154, followed closely by Zhang (155), and Lee (157).  

The Gophers will look to build on their Minnesota Invitational experience as they prepare for the Annika Intercollegiate tournament next week in Lake Elmo.