Golfers struggle against top foes in first action of the spring, finish 14th

Minnesota was a little rusty in the season opener in Puerto Rico over the weekend.

Austin Cumblad

It wasn’t such a sunny result for the Minnesota men’s golf team this weekend down in Puerto Rico.

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The Gophers started their spring season with a 14th place finish in the NCAA Shootout-Puerto Rico Classic at Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico The team carded a 40-over par 904 in the three-round tournament.

Alabama, ranked second in the nation by Golfweek, won the team title with a 10-under 854, beating No. 4 Oklahoma State by three strokes. Alabama’s Matthew Swan took home the individual crown, firing a 12-under 204.

Though the field Minnesota was up against is a veritable Who’s Who of contenders for the individual and team NCAA National Championship, director of golf Brad James believes players are able to compete with the best; they just didn’t this weekend.

“It’s a good field down here but we’ve got five good players and the guys just didn’t perform this week,” he said.

The Gophers’ best finishers were senior Clayton Rask and junior Victor Almstrom, who both tied for 25th.

Rask was in a seven-way tie for fifth at 2-under after two rounds, but fell out of the top 20 with a final round 77.

Rask said he was generally happy with how he played, especially tee-to-green. The putter wasn’t always there, however, especially in the third round.

“I mentally wore myself out trying to grind it out, but sometimes you need this to happen,” Rask said. “Coming right out of the chute and playing extremely well is a pretty tall order, but it’s good to see good signs and at the same time be brought back to reality.”

The entire team was snapped back to the reality of competitive golf this weekend, but Almstrom said that many mistakes from this weekend should disappear as Minnesota plays more tournaments.

“You miss one shot here or there that you might not miss two weeks from now when you’ve played a few more rounds,” he said.

“We can’t be too hard on ourselves that it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. It’s one tournament and we still have five to play before postseason and that’s when it’s all going to matter anyway.”