Gophers women putting up best numbers in program history

However the season ends, whether or not they make it into the postseason, the Gophers women’s golf team can look back on this one fondly. After all, it might just be the best team they’ve ever fielded. The Gophers are averaging the lowest stroke total since the program started in 1975, 33 seasons ago. They’ve finished in the top-10 in eight of their nine tournaments, including five top-five finishes. Sophomore Teresa Puga, from Spain, broke the fall-scoring record earlier in the year and is currently on pace to finish with the fourth-best spring average âÄì which would add up to a Gophers record for season stroke average. They even broke the school record for the lowest 54-hole score in October, shooting an 885 at the Las Vegas Invitation, ironically where they had their lowest finish of the season (16th). âÄúIt has been so much better, and a better note to go out on,âÄù senior Paige Bromen said. âÄúNo one likes to finish poorly, and so we’re all looking at this as a positive. But, that said, there are still a lot of things we know we can get better with and some things we still want to do this season.âÄù An NCAA tournament berth would be one of those things. With only two tournaments left, though, it will probably require a pair of surprising finishes, starting at the Lady Buckeye Invitational this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. The Gophers currently sit at No. 79 in the NCAA head-to-head rankings, which the NCAA uses to choose its tournament field, despite their high finishes, mostly due to their strength of schedule. The men’s team identified a top-70 finish this season as the likely cut off for them to make the tournament, but they have a history of success in the postseason which includes a national championship in 2002 âÄì something the women don’t have. So, they would likely need to rise more than 10 places in the rankings to receive an at-large berth, which Bromen said would probably take a win or very high finish this weekend and a good showing at the Big Ten tournament. âÄúNational rankings are always in the back of our mind, and of course we’re always looking to improve that,âÄù Bromen said. âÄúThose top-10 finishes are great, but we really need to get a win under our belts to establish ourselves.âÄù The other way in is with a Big Ten championship, which is another daunting task, with two Big Ten teams ranked in the top-20 (No. 9 Purdue and No. 16 Michigan State). Not to mention that the tournament will be on Purdue’s home course. But, Puga said, this weekend’s tournament is an ideal prep for the all-important trip to Purdue. First of all, eight of the 11 Big Ten teams are in the field, including Michigan State. On top of that, the Scarlet Course in Columbus left the men’s team raving about its difficulty after playing there last weekend, and Puga said it is a good simulator of Purdue’s home course. âÄúThis place is about course management, and that’s definitely what it’s about in Purdue,âÄù Puga said. âÄúIt’s going to force us to think about all our shots, and it’s going to put us in a good position going into Purdue, and that’s why it’s big for us.âÄù