Minnesota finishes last in Lady Puerto Rico Classic

The Gophers finished in last place at this same event last season.

Brian Deutsch

Getting away from the winter weather wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for the Minnesota women’s golf team this weekend.

While the team finished in last place behind strong competition at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, one Gophers golfer couldn’t take the heat, literally.

Sophomore Anne Martin was unable to finish her second round Saturday after she was overcome by the heat.

“Coming from 30 or 20 (degrees) to high 80’s was pretty intense,” interim coach Kristine Wessinger said. “It was pretty draining on the team.”

After recuperating Saturday evening, Martin was cleared to play and returned to the course Sunday.

The heat wasn’t the only factor that plagued the Gophers though as strong winds and southern schools that can practice outdoors year round hindered the team’s chances of success.

“We had a lot of bugs to work out but everything is progress,” junior Kelli Berns said. “We’re looking for improvement every single time so we’re definitely not disappointed with our performance this weekend.”

Berns said strong winds and the heat affected everyone’s play in the tournament, especially towards the end of each round.

“It really depended which hole you were on, especially as the heat was getting pretty intense and the wind picked up a lot,” she said. “It made it difficult to strongly finish and come in with good numbers on those last four or five holes.”

Although this weekend’s play is obviously not the way Minnesota wanted to start off spring play, Wessinger said that the team doesn’t view it as a disappointment.

“We were up against some tough competition and it’s always hard to get out there in the first event,” Wessinger said. “We’ve got a long spring season and I know we are going to see some improvement.”

The Gophers finished 16th with a team score of 972, 108 shots over par and 99 shots behind tournament-champion Auburn.

In all, the tournament featured nine of the country’s top 50 teams. The two highest-ranked teams, No. 6 Auburn and No. 1 Georgia battled for the title, but Auburn came out ahead by just five strokes.

Berns led Minnesota with a 23-over par 239, landing her in a three-way tie for 60th place.

Sophomore Young Na Lee finished in a tie for 63rd after firing a 24-over par 240, and freshman Christine Herzog finished 10 spots behind Lee in 73rd place with a 26-over par 242.

Freshman Leslie Grabeman shot a 27-over par 243 and finished the tournament in 76th while junior Emily Brand landed in 84th with a 38-over 254.

Martin, who did not place due to Saturday’s withdrawal, fired a two-round score of 177, 33 shots over par.

The Gophers have next weekend off before playing in the Rio Verde Invitational March 9-11 in Phoenix, giving the team a full two weeks of practice to work on its play.

“We are going to work on building some confidence and believing that we can shoot these numbers that some of these top teams are,” Wessinger said. “I know we can. I’ve got a very talented group of girls and I know that this spring is going to bring some success.”