Young team struggles at tournament

Sophomore Jose Mendez finished second overall at the Windon Memorial.

by Betsy Helfand

The Gophers finished 13th out of 15 teams at the Windon Memorial, and head coach John Carlson didn’t sugarcoat the performance afterward.

“I’m pretty disappointed in the way that our team ended up performing this week,” he said.

Senior Tyler Lowenstein and sophomore Daniel Luftspring tied for 59th in the tournament at 12-over par, and sophomore Matt Rachey and freshman Rúnar Arnórsson finished behind them.

Some of the team members’ lack of experience played a part in the tournament’s results, Carlson said.

But aside from that, he said the team didn’t drive the ball well during the tournament.

“We just had four guys who had off-weeks,” Carlson.

The one guy who didn’t — sophomore Jose Mendez — finished second overall at 4-under par.

Mendez was second after the first two rounds but fell back in the third round on Monday.

“To come back and almost win the tournament after being 4-over [par] through nine holes, that was a tremendous accomplishment,” Carlson said.

Mendez said he could have made better decisions with his clubs and distance control.

“I sort of struggled on the first nine holes, but I kept playing my game, and I finally got three birdies in a row, so that really helped me,” he said.

Mendez shot a 38 in his first nine holes Monday but bounced back with a 33 to cap off his round.

He said the course was playing similar both days, but the pins were tough all day, which made for difficult decisions.

Mendez finished one stroke behind the winner, Tulsa’s Colton Staggs.

Carlson said he had a chance to see Staggs for a bit on Monday.

Staggs, Tulsa’s fourth golfer, shot 63 on Monday.

“For a four man on a team to shoot 63, that’s an eye-opening experience, even for my guys,” Carlson said. “That’s the level of competition that they need to rise up to play to.”

Carlson said lineup changes are coming for the Gophers.

“I’m going to bring in a couple new guys from home, and hopefully they’ll change the momentum that we have after this tournament,” Carlson said.

The Gophers will need to respond quickly as they head to the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate next weekend.

“We just don’t let one tournament lose our focus,” Mendez said.