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Sophomore Jose Mendez showed momentum going into the postseason Sunday, finishing in the top five for the second consecutive tournament and leading Minnesota to a tie for third in the Big Ten championship.
Minnesota tied with Penn State at 29-over, and Illinois took the title at 14-under par in Newburgh, Indiana.
“I’m thrilled with how the young group played this weekend,” head coach John Carlson said. “This was one of the hardest golf courses in the country … and the wind made it harder.”
Mendez finished at even par (72-72-70-74 — 288) to lead the team at the championships for the second consecutive year.
“Today was a grind, and the course was tough, but I played really well this weekend,” Mendez said. “It’s awesome leading the team, and I look forward to leading them next year, too.”
Freshman Riley Johnson posted a top-20 finish in a tie for 18th at 8-over par in his first collegiate postseason competition.
“It feels great [finishing in the top-20], but it feels even better to see your team succeed,” Johnson said. “My game felt great going into Big Tens, and it showed.”
After being in first overall after the first eight holes, junior Jon DuToit fell off the pace. But when the team needed him Sunday, he answered the call.
DuToit ended at 10-over in a tie for 23rd and finished with the best final round on the team.
“He lost a little confidence in the middle of the tournament, but when we really needed him today, he stepped up,” Carlson said. “And that shows true grit.”
Freshman Rúnar Arnórsson tallied three rounds of 75 at 14-over to finish in 36th place and Charlie Duensing scored 21-over in a tie for 51st.
“Rúnar has come a long way from the fall,” Carlson said. “He has a real mature game and fought hard today.”
Women finish seventh
The wind and cold made for a tough second round in the Big Ten championships this weekend in Indianapolis, as the Gophers looked to rebound from poor performances in recent tournaments.
Minnesota finished in seventh at 34-over as Northwestern and Ohio State tied for the title.
Senior Carmen Laguna led the Gophers for the second consecutive tournament, posting a 7-over par to finish in a tie for 21st.
“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but I’m pretty happy with my performance,” Laguna said. “It’s always great to lead the team score-wise and have people look up at you.”
Sophomore Emie Peronnin finished in a tie for 25th at 8-over par, and freshman Sabrine Garrison was one stroke behind in a tie for 29th.
Head coach Michele Redman sat Garrison last tournament after she struggled in recent competitions.
But she responded over the weekend by finishing with one of her best performances in recent tournaments.
“I always knew [Garrison’s kind of performance at Big Ten’s] was in there,” Redman said.
In her last Big Ten championship, senior Anna Laorr posted an 11-over to finish in a tie for 36th after a tough second round in terrible conditions.
“I played well in the second and third round, but my unfamiliarity with the course made the first round tough,” Laorr said. “But the second round was the coldest round I’ve ever played.”