Ahokas leaves team to pursue pro career across the pond

by C.J. Spang

Freshman golfer Antti Ahokas has left Minnesotaís menís golf team to play professionally, coach Brad James said.

Ahokas, who went up-and-down on the 54th hole of The Gopher Invitational to clinch the tournament for the Gophers, plans to join the PGA European Tour before eventually going on to the PGA Tour.

ìItís very difficult and extremely disappointing,” James said. ìBut at the same time, it gives someone else an opportunity ó but he made our team better.”

The Finnish freshman averaged 71.08 strokes per round and finished third or higher in three out of four events, including a tie for second at the Duke Invitational.

ìAntti was the type of player that wasnít staying four years,” James said. ìHeís an elite golfer and college golf was a stepping-stone for him.”

As for the rest of the team, James feels that Ahokasí one semester helps his team immensely.

ìI think he helped our team realize there needs to be a whole (new) level of dedication to get to that next level,” James said. ìHe was a leader on and off the course and that was something our program needed.”

Still, the loss of Ahokas severely cripples a team that hoped to contend for a national title.

ìHeís just a rare, rare player that can go straight from college and have success in the pro ranks,” James said. ìHeís by far one of the best players Iíve ever had since Iíve been here, if not the best.”