Minnesota resumes play at Crooked Stick

The Gophers hope to make strides at the two-day tournament in Indianapolis.

by Brian Deutsch

After almost a monthlong hiatus from competition, the Minnesota women’s golf team will return to action today in the Indiana Invitational at Crooked Stick.

The two-day tournament starts today and concludes Tuesday at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.

Today’s event will give the Gophers one final tune-up before the Big Ten Championships later this month.

Interim coach Kristine Wessinger said she would like to see her team put on a strong performance this week, which would hopefully build some momentum for Minnesota as it heads into the conference tournament.

“We can show people this weekend that we can play well and that we can play with some of these top teams,” Wessinger said. “I know these girls are capable of doing that; they’ve got the talent. We definitely want to go out and make a statement, especially in these last two tournaments.”

Sophomore Sydney Liles reaffirmed her coach’s statement.

“Overall, we are fairly positive going into it,” she said. “But a good showing here would really help to carry the momentum over to the Big Tens.”

The Gophers will also be able to size up some of their conference competition this weekend since the tournament features eight Big Ten programs, including host school Indiana.

While the event features only five teams in Golfweek’s Top 50, four of those teams are Big Ten programs.

At No. 21, Michigan State is the highest-ranked team competing in the two-day tournament, followed by 32nd-ranked Northwestern, 33rd-ranked University of Nevada Las Vegas, No. 43 Michigan and No. 47 Indiana.

While Wessinger will keep a steady eye on the competition this week, she also must select individual golfers from the Minnesota roster for the Big Ten tournament.

Liles along with junior Kelli Berns, sophomores Anne Martin and Young Na Lee, and freshman Christine Herzog will make the trip to Indiana for the Gophers, but this week’s roster isn’t necessarily a lock for the conference tournament, according to Wessinger.

“It just depends on how these girls play. I would say a majority of these girls will travel to the Big Tens, but you never know,” she said. “It depends on how the tournament (this week) goes, and we’ll re-evaluate after this tournament.”

Wessinger said while no golfer in particular needs to put on a showcase this weekend in order to make the team’s roster for the conference tournament, everyone will need a strong showing.

“What I’ve kind of told these girls is that they need to claim their spots. They need to push each other.”

Martin said she feels the Gophers are at an important point in their season – one that has the team excited and ready to play.

“We’ve been competitive all year, but now we’re in that mode where we’re really going to kick it into gear this next month and give it everything we have,” she said.