Minnesota ties for eighth at UCF Challenge

Freshman Celia Kuenster led the team, finishing 2-under par.

by Brad Bobel

While the cold winter blasted Minneapolis with freezing rain and snow on Tuesday, the Gophers were in Orlando, Fla., to tee it up in the UCF Challenge.

Minnesota finished the tournament tied for eighth with Texas, shooting a team 16-over par overall (291-291-298—880), after posting a 10-over par in the final round on Tuesday.

The Gophers arrived in Florida two days before their first round started, which gave them a chance to play two practice rounds.

“[Practice rounds] are essential. [They] gives us an opportunity to practice and learn the angles of the course,” freshman Celia Kuenster said.

Kuenster led the Gophers, firing 2-under par (70-72-72—214), as she shot even par on each of the last two rounds. She finished in a three-way tie for 11th place, only seven strokes behind first.

Virginia took home first, shooting a team 14-under par. Big Ten foe Wisconsin shot a 6-over par, tying for fifth.

The Gophers shot their worst round on Tuesday.

 “The third day was windy and tough to play,” head coach Michele Redman said. “But it was a good start to the spring, and it was a good field.”

Senior Carmen Laguna ended the tournament strong, shooting a team-low 2-under par on Tuesday. She finished second for Minnesota with a 221 (76-75-70).

Redman said Laguna’s performance during her third round was nice to see.

Rounding out the top five for Minnesota was Emie Peronnin with a 6-over par; Anna Laorr finished three strokes behind her at 9-over par; and Sabrine Garrison finished at 13-over par.

Minnesota’s winter weather can pose a challenge for Division I golfers.

It causes the Gophers to practice on turf indoors, while southern opponents can practice outside year-round.

“We haven’t been outside for a while, and it’s tough, but we need to be patient and get our focus back,” Laguna said.

Patience could help Minnesota improve in certain areas, like putting.

Minnesota’s poor putting made it difficult for it to post low scores once it reached the green.

“Putting is the biggest area to improve, especially putting speed,” Redman said. “We have a long time to do drills and to get better.”

The Gophers struggled with their putting during the tournament, but with a three-week break until their next tournament, they have time to fix it.

“We have some work to do, but I have seen progress, and I was happy with the final tournament,” Redman said.