Flanagan leads the way for Gophers at Jerry Pate Intercollegiate

Minnesota finishes seventh in Alabama

Sophomore Angus Flanagan plays during the Gopher Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Maple Plain, Minnesota.

Courtney Deutz

Sophomore Angus Flanagan plays during the Gopher Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Maple Plain, Minnesota.

The men’s golf team had little time to recuperate after posting a top-five finish in Wisconsin last week.  Before long, they were back in action, this time in Vestavia Hills, Alabama for the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate.

Minnesota finished in seventh place among the 12 teams that competed in the two-day-long tournament.  On Monday, each squad played two rounds before completing the final 18 holes on Tuesday.

Senior Peter Jones stole the show for the Gophers in the first round, shooting the best round of his college career with a four-under 66.  Jones was competing in his first tournament as part of the starting lineup this year, earning his spot after posting a top-10 finish as an individual last week.

“Him playing as well as he did in the first round was crucial for us,” associate head coach Justin Smith said.  “[Jones’] 66 was a big statement round.  It proved he’s someone who can shoot a big-time round when it matters the most.”

While Jones couldn’t continue his momentum into round two, sophomore Angus Flanagan and freshman Lincoln Johnson picked up the slack, shooting second round scores of three-under and even-par respectively.

“I had the ball under-control which definitely helps on a golf course like that.” Flanagan said.  “I  missed only a few fairways and was hitting it pretty much straight down the middle every time.  Golf’s a lot easier when it’s from the fairway.”

Those same two players once again posted Minnesota’s two best scores of round-three on Tuesday.  Johnson started out slow, finding himself five-over on the day after his first six holes.  However, as he’s done multiple times this year, the freshman fought back to earn himself another solid round.  Between his seventh and 15th holes, he strung together a nice run in which he didn’t shoot any bogeys, instead sinking three birdies and an eagle.

“I met up with coach following my seventh hole,” Johnson said.  “He gave me a pep talk and said, ‘focus up, the team needs you, show that you belong here’.  I kept reassuring myself to be committed to what I was doing.”

Flanagan continued his strong end to Monday into his third round as well, shooting just two bogies on the day compared to three birdies for a round score of 69.  It was the second time this year he shot two rounds under 70 in the same tournament this season, something no other Gopher has accomplished in fall 2018.  He finished with a score of 209 (-1), tied for sixth among individuals.  

“It’s huge for us to have him,” Coach Smith said of Flanagan. “He’s been playing great golf.  I keep challenging him every tournament that he has the ability to be in contention to win tournaments every week.”

The team leaderboard came down to the finals holes on Tuesday with tournament hosts, Alabama, finding themselves in tight competition with SEC rivals, Arkansas.  In the end, the Crimson Tide emerged victorious with a combined total of 828 (-12), one stroke better than the Razorbacks.

Among individuals, Arkansas’ Julian Perico had a spectacular tournament that saw him finish first.  He shot a 64 in round one and followed that up with a 65 later that day in round two.  Perico finished 13-under-par to claim first place among individuals by four strokes.

Minnesota will next compete in the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas on October 22.  It will be the team’s last tournament of the fall.

“We need some rest right now,” Coach Smith said. “These guys have been burning the candle at both ends.  We’re going to have a little bit of fun here on the golf course and then we’ll be right back to it.  I think Royal Oaks is a great golf course we’re familiar with and gives us a really good shot to put it all together.”