Golfers gear up for invite

Minnesota senior Alex Gaugert hits a drive down the fairway on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at Edina Country Club.

Amanda Snyder

Minnesota senior Alex Gaugert hits a drive down the fairway on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at Edina Country Club.

Jake Stark

Minnesota head men’s golf coach John Carlson said he had high expectations for his team in the qualifying tournament before the Alister MacKenzie Invitational.

His team did not match his expectations.

After a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Tucker Invitational on Sept. 27-28, the Gophers played a three-round qualifying tournament last week to determine the lineup for the upcoming Alister MacKenzie Invitational in Sonoma, Calif.

But after the tournament, the five players who usually travel for the team remained in the top five spots.

Carlson said he expected some of his young players to challenge for a spot on the five-man traveling team.

“I certainly think some of our freshmen were in it on the last day,” he said. “But they weren’t able to put any pressure on the top five.”

As a result, the Gophers will use the same lineup they’ve used for each tournament this fall.

Senior Alex Gaugert played well for the Gophers in the qualifying tournament. He finished second on the team with an aggregate score of 5-over par.

“I never really thought of losing my spot,” he said. “I just played my game and saw what happened.”

Freshman Jose Mendez, who has been the team’s top golfer all season, was the Gophers’ lowest scorer in the qualifier. He finished at even par for the 54-hole tournament.

The other three Gophers who kept their spots in the lineup were redshirt senior Jon Trasamar, junior Tyler Lowenstein and sophomore Jon DuToit.

“Those five guys have certainly solidified themselves in our lineup,” Carlson said. “But I need to see more in the upcoming tournaments.”

He said if he doesn’t see better scores in tournaments, he’ll stop having qualifiers and just hand-pick the lineup.

Looking ahead to the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, Carlson said he expects his team to compete for a top spot.

Tournament host California is currently ranked No. 4 in the Golfweek rankings. The Golden Bears are the only top-10 team playing in the tournament.

“California is obviously the odds-on favorite,” Carlson said. “But I think second place is certainly up for grabs.”

The Sonoma Golf Club, the site of this year’s tournament, hosted the Charles Schwab Cup Championship — a PGA Champions Tour event — from 2003-09.

Carlson said he’s never played or visited the course, but he understands how it plays from seeing it on TV.

“It’s a tight tree-line golf course, similar to the courses we qualified at,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a little advantage having just played tree courses.”

The last time the Gophers played in the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in 2010, they tied for 10th. Gaugert, then a freshman, is the only golfer on this year’s team to have played in that tournament.

He said he expects the Gophers to be much more competitive this time around.

“We were right there two weeks ago in New Mexico against some tough competition,” he said. “I think we can compete with anybody in the country if we just play our game.”