Women’s golf

Jim Schortemeyer

With nine of 11 Big Ten teams in the field, the Indiana Invitational figured to be a good indicator for the Big Ten women’s golf tournament.
The perennial favorites, Indiana and Ohio State, finished first and second, respectively. Minnesota finished fourth, 14 shots behind the Hoosiers.
The Gophers had hopes of upsetting Indiana or Ohio State, but they were sunk by the end of the first round. Minnesota shot 29-over par Saturday morning, but went just 31-over in their next two rounds combined.
Senior Melanie Lepp partially blamed the weather for Minnesota’s early struggles.
“Getting the feel was difficult because it was so cold this morning,” Lepp said.
Minnesota played a marathon 36 holes on Saturday, and had no time to regroup after its poor first 18. But sophomore Jenny Bruun said a turnaround was to be expected.
“I think the second 18 we always have to play better,” Bruun said. “If you play focused, you should get better. We didn’t talk about it between rounds but it seemed to work.”
The only Gopher who didn’t struggle was senior Kristi Weichert. Weichert was on the leaderboard throughout the tournament, before finishing Sunday’s final round tied for the lead.
The tournament winner was decided by which player had the lowest score on the 18th hole of regulation play on Sunday. Weichert and Ohio State’s Natalie Mosher both bogeyed the 18th, knocking them into a tie for second. Ohio State’s Lisa Strom parred the 18th, giving her the win.
Minnesota coach Kathy Williams was impressed with Weichert’s surge to the top.
“For her, that’s quite an accomplishment,” Williams said. “She struggled to get on the team and then she does this. For her to do this is just phenomenal. She’s usually our fourth or fifth finisher.”
Lepp shot the low round of the tournament with an even-par 74 on Sunday. She needed the help; Lepp finished tied for 19th.
While Weichert was dominating, it took her teammates a while to catch on. The Gophers struggled with the lightning-fast greens and stiff slopes throughout the tournament.
“You have to play a ton of break on these greens,” Williams said. “It’s like watching the Masters out here.”
But Williams went on to say that there were some “good signs” from her team. Minnesota shot a 309 in its final round, which made them only the second team to shoot lower than 310. Indiana shot 308 and 306.
If the Gophers had shot a 314 in its first round, they would have tied Ohio State for second place, three strokes behind Indiana.
Bruun said that the weekend’s results have energized the team, from the top on down.
“(Williams) is excited because the whole meet is pretty much from our conference,” Bruun said. “Those coaches love to compete. I think she gets very excited when we’re playing well.”
The whole team will have to play well at the Big Ten tournament, which starts April 30. Lepp says that when one player steps up their game — like Weichert — the rest of the team picks it up too.
“Knowing she’s playing well makes me want to go out and show what I can do,” Lepp said.