Gophers finish 12th in Gopher Invitational

Senior Riley Johnson finished first among the hosts, shooting a 218 in the event.

by Max Biegert

The Gophers weren’t able to use their home field to their advantage on Sunday and Monday.

Minnesota finished in 12th out of 16 teams at the Gopher Invitational, an event at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minnesota. Senior Riley Johnson was first among Gophers in a tie for 22nd place.

“The difference between fifth place and 12th place was not too much and it was exciting to see these guys compete,” said assistant coach Justin Smith. 

Minnesota finished Sunday which was suspended due to rain, in 14th. After that, the Gophers posted the best second-round score of any team in the field, leading to the 12th-place finish.

Senior Rúnar Arnórsson and freshman Angus Flanagan finished tied for 31st.

The Gophers had a very up-and-down tournament, finding themselves at the top of the leaderboard early into round one, but faltering at the end of the round. 

Smith liked the leadership he saw from his two seniors in Johnson and Arnorssen, and experienced sophomore Thomas Longbella, who shot four under in the second round to get himself and the team back in the tournament. 

“Those guys are going to be the backbone of what we do this year and the way they prepare and approach will rub off on the young guys,” Smith said.

The Gophers edged out every team in the second round, which is something they are looking build on.

“Our consistency can be a lot better. We just have to get back to the range,” Johnson said. 

The Gophers faced a tremendous field this weekend, one that head coach John Carlson said could be in the top five. Arkansas took home the championship, but right behind them were nationally ranked teams, with No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Baylor, and Kent State and Pepperdine, whom are both tied for No. 23. 

“We know we can compete with these guys, we just have to put three rounds together,” Johnson said. 

Flanagan made his tournament debut this weekend and will look to build off of his performance. 

“It was quite hard coming from a different country, different conditions, different golf course, so I was pretty happy with the way I finished,” Flanagan said. 

Smith liked what he saw from Flanagan, too, noting the freshman’s consistency. The freshman shot 72 once and 74 twice, not wavering too far from the par of 71.

“He showed a lot of promise, he struck it as good as he needed to win, but he couldn’t get any putts to fall.” Smith said.

With underclassman Flanagan and Longbella intermixing with the upperclassman of Johnson and Arnórsson, the Gophers look to use that mix of experience and talent to compete and find victory in tournaments this season.

“Our young guys are going to step up and I think we are going to have the most productive out of our upperclassman that we have had in a while,” Smith said.

The Gophers now will look onward to the Maui Jim Intercollegiate Tournament that starts on Sept. 22.

“We did a heck of job to get ourselves back in contention in the second round of this week and we are looking forward to getting back there again,” Smith said.