In collegiate golf, it’s not always adverse weather, a tricky course or a tough field that affects a team’s play. Sometimes a team’s score is influenced by one of its own golfers.
On and off this season, the Minnesota men’s golf team has been carried by four golfers instead of five. Bothered by a congenital back problem (a crooked spine), senior Martin Le Mesurier has not always played his best this year.
This past weekend at the intercollegiate in Cary, N.C., cold and wet weather aggravated Le Mesurier’s back while he practiced before Sunday’s final round. Gophers coach John Means said the team had a chance to win the tournament heading into Sunday, but with Le Mesurier in pain, Minnesota finished 10th of 12 teams.
“Marty golfed, but he just wasn’t there,” Means said. “That puts the pressure on the other four guys.”
Le Mesurier finished 66th in a tournament Minnesota might have won. The 35th-ranked Gophers had a fairly friendly field to contend with, including winner Wake Forest.
“It was a big win for Wake Forest because it was their first of the season,” Means said. “We were paired with them so that was kind of fun. I thought it might help us when we saw them sink some putts, that it might make us sink some, too.”
Where are they now?
As a freshman in 1998, James McLean caught golf by surprise with his win at the NCAA championship.
But this year, McLean seems to have lost his magic touch.
Currently, McLean is ranked 21st among collegiate golfers.
“He’s been very inconsistent,” Means said. “He had some back problems earlier this year, too.”
But injury is not all that has plagued McLean the past two seasons. After taking the individual title in 1998, he acquired a few more “friends.”
“He’s had a lot of pressure from agents and people in golf to turn pro,” Means said. “All the talent and ability is still there. It’s where his head is.”
Means said he did not know if McLean would return to Minnesota next season.
“I think that’s what’s going through his head and what he is struggling with,” Means said. “It’s something a junior in college shouldn’t have to go through.”
Minnesota has this weekend off. The Gophers travel to Michigan next weekend for the Spartan Invitational.
Sarah Mitchell covers golf and welcomes comments at [email protected]