Seventh-place finish leaves Gophers wondering about NCAA regionals

Purdue won the Big Ten championships with an impressive 6-over as a group during the four rounds.

by John Hageman

After a historic spring season, the Minnesota womenâÄôs golf team will have to anxiously await news of whether its season will continue after finishing seventh at the Big Ten championships over the weekend. The women will find out if they did enough to be invited to the NCAA regional qualifier with an at-large bid. The Gophers shot a 56-over par 1208 in the four rounds of play at the University Ridge Golf Course in Verona, Wis. , and were just three strokes out of fifth place. They came into the final round Sunday in fifth place, but bad weather conditions made for higher scores across the leaderboard. Purdue won the event for the third year in a row and the fourth time in five years by shooting a 6-over 1158. The Gophers had two individuals finish in the top 10 with juniors Samantha Sommers and Teresa Puga finishing in fifth and tied for ninth, respectively. Sommers shot a 6-over 294, while Puga shot a 9-over 297. While her teammatesâÄô scores varied over the weekend, Sommers stayed consistent, shooting a 1-over 73 in the first two rounds and 74 in the last two . âÄúThatâÄôs basically what our team is working on; just not getting ahead of ourselves,âÄù Sommers said. âÄúJust staying positive and not getting down has helped me and the whole team.âÄù There was a wide gap between the GophersâÄô top two finishers and the rest of the team, though, with junior Michele Edlin finishing in a tie for 32nd by shooting a 20-over 308. Junior Mary Narzisi landed in a tie for 52nd by shooting a 31-over 319. Senior Christine Herzog and freshman Jackie Shepherd finished at the back of the pack by shooting a 39-over 327 to finish in a tie for 63rd. âÄúWe needed our third, fourth, fifth and sixth players to hold their own, too, so that kind of hurt us today,âÄù Minnesota associate head coach Kristine Wessinger said. âÄúWeâÄôre hoping that the more experience they get, the better they get.âÄù PurdueâÄôs Laura Gonzalez won the event, shooting an 8-under 280. Finishing in second, MichiganâÄôs Ashley Bauer set a Big Ten record by shooting a 7-under 65 in the second round , also tying the course record. With four top-five finishes in the spring season , Wessinger said the Gophers are right on the bubble for making NCAAs. âÄúIâÄôm hoping it goes our way,âÄù Wessinger said. âÄúThe womenâÄôs program has taken a new step this spring and hopefully we get to take another step towards the regionals.âÄù Puga added that while the Gophers would obviously want to make the regional round, their focus throughout the season was to take one tournament at a time. âÄúWe didnâÄôt know what was going to happen, we couldnâÄôt go that far ahead,âÄù Puga said. âÄúWe just play our best every tournament.âÄù But Sommers admitted the team is definitely anxious to learn their fate. âÄúWe are ecstatic. We just want to know now,âÄù Sommers said. âÄúHopefully we do go to regionals and do really well there.âÄù