More top-tier competition awaits Gophers

Four top 10 teams will join Minnesota in Georgia this weekend.

by Austin Cumblad

It may be only a month into its spring season, but the Minnesota men’s golf team is already halfway to NCAA Regional play, and now is the time for the Gophers to step up their play.

Minnesota begins its second straight tournament in Georgia today at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational, a 54-hole event hosted by Augusta State runs through Sunday at the Champions Retreat Golf Club.

As has been typical of tournaments the Gophers have appeared in this season, the field at Augusta is extremely competitive. Twelve teams are ranked in the Golfweek Top 50, including No. 1 Georgia, No. 4 UCLA, No. 8 Tennessee, and No. 10 Georgia Tech.

In addition, four of the top 10 individuals according to Golfweek will be competing. Minnesota’s top individual is senior Clayton Rask, who currently ranks 28th in Golfweek’s poll.

The Gophers spring season has been quite a struggle, thus far. Minnesota has yet to have a golfer place in the top-20 at an event, and has placed 14th, 13th and 15th as a team in its three tournaments since the fall.

Granted, the Gophers have faced fields that rival the NCAA Championship each time, but Minnesota’s play, in general, has been lacking.

Four players have seen action in both fall and spring tournaments this year, and all four have higher stroke averages in spring play.

Rask and junior Victor Almstrom are leading the team with averages of 73.88 and 74.1, respectively, in spring play. Both of those numbers, however, are nearly two strokes worse than their fall counterparts.

Rask and Almstrom are the only two Gophers who have appeared in every tournament during the 2007-2008 season, and they will head up the lineup again this weekend.

Minnesota will be rounded out by sophomore Ben Pisani, freshman Mikael Salminen and sophomore Thomas Campbell, who is making his spring debut.