Wisconsin tourney lid-lifter for the fall

The Gophers travel east for the 54-hole Sunday-Monday tournament

C.J. Spang

Minnesota’s women’s golf team landed a keeper this summer.

Three, actually.

The Gophers have three incoming freshmen who are no strangers to winning.

Sydney Liles won the 2005 Arizona Junior Girls State Championship, Sydney Liles is the Under-18 Finnish Girls Champion and Young Na Lee is the No. 1 ranked player in Guam.

The Gophers will be looking to these women to make the team more competitive.

“This team has a lot of depth and a lot of talent,” fourth-year coach Katie Hanneman said. “Some of the women who have had spots are going to have to work to keep them – their comfort zones are going to be tested.”

But the Gophers have more than just a talented freshman class. Four of the top five returning starters are upperclassmen, which gives them plenty of leadership.

One player who will be looked upon to lead Minnesota is junior Samantha Braschler, who was the No. 2 scorer last year as a sophomore.

“I want to teach (the freshmen) where they can miss the ball,” Braschler said. “That’s something freshmen tend to have a tough time learning.”

As for feeling threatened by the talented underclassmen, Braschler said it only makes her better.

“I’m always motivated by threats,” she said. “I’ve been working hard this summer and it just makes me work harder.

“I’m feeling really confident this year. We’ve got multiple people who can travel and shoot low numbers – we won’t be scared about our fifth and sixth scorers.”

Braschler and the rest of the team begin the season at Sunday’s Wisconsin Invitational at University Ridge golf course in Madison, Wis.

The 12-team, 54-hole tournament features teams from all across the nation. Missouri is undoubtedly the favorite after a 16th-place finish in their first trip to nationals last season.

“This tournament will definitely help put us on the radar and find out where we stand,” Hanneman said. “We’re not worried about who is at the tournament, we just want to put together three solid rounds and things will work out.”

In 2003, the Gophers placed seventh at this event, but this year’s team is almost twice as big as that 2003 team.

Last season the Gophers took 12th of out 15 teams in their first tournament of the year, but bounced back and won their second tournament, the Minnesota Invitational.

“I’m looking for a couple people to shoot even par or a few over and as a team I would like to see us break 300 for one of our rounds,” she said. “Hopefully we can get off to a good start and can form some consistency for the season.”