Final round not friendly to Minnesota

The Gophers were set up nicely in third after two rounds, but finished fifth.

Nick Heronimus

A disappointing final round performance led to the Minnesota men’s golf team falling from third place to fifth place at the Big Ten/Pac Ten Challenge in Tacoma, Wash.

The Gophers were led individually by seniors Clayton Rask and Andy Paulson. Rask continued a recent trend of his by finishing with the top individual’s score for Minnesota for the third consecutive tournament.

“I’m disappointed overall but very happy with Clayton and Andy individually,” head coach Brad James said.

UCLA won the tournament by shooting a 15-over-par 879. The Bruins carded three round totals of 294-287-298.

The tournament medalist was senior Ryan Brehm from second-place team-finisher Michigan State. He shot a 6-under-par 210 to capture the medalist honors.

The Gophers started strong by sitting in third place after the first two rounds of play.

As a team, Minnesota shot a 15-over-par 591 to earn their third-place spot. Ahead of them were UCLA with a 5-over-par 581 and Oregon with a 12-over-par 588.

Leading the Gophers first-day charge were Rask and Paulson. Both golfers carded 2-over-par 146s to sit in a tie for sixth place individually.

Paulson had the best individual round of the entire tournament in his second round shooting a 1-under-par 71.

“I think I made birdies at the right time,” Paulson said. “I stuck to it and if I made a bogey I didn’t let it get me down.”

Paulson had struggled recently. In the last tournament for Minnesota he finished in last place, but showed some grit by bettering his score 14 strokes in the final round of that same tournament.

“Andy has been working hard over the last few weeks making technical changes,” James said.

Those changes have been noticed by his teammates as well.

“For what he has been through mentally and physically; to finally see him shooting the scores he can and compete is really good,” Rask said.

Paulson however downplayed his performance.

“I definitely could have done more, but I’m pretty happy with what’s going on,” Paulson said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

The final round saw the Gophers lose their first day groove and drop back into the middle of the pack.

Minnesota shot its worst round as a team with 305. The difficulty they had in keeping their momentum from the first round was credited to some changes on the course as well as the length of some of its holes.

“The pin locations were more difficult,” Paulson said.

Not only were some of the pin locations much more difficult but holes 16, 17 and 18 were labeled as monsters by Rask. The holes gave him “a gut check” he said when standing in the tee box.

For the tournament Rask finished sixth individually by shooting a 3-over-par 219. Paulson finished seventh, firing a 4-over-par 220.

Finishing in a tie for 23rd was sophomore Ben Pisani who shot an 11-over-par 227.

Junior Victor Almstrom, who has seen his scores fall off in the last few tournaments, shot a 14-over-par 230.

Others that golfed for the Gophers were sophomore Justin Kaplan and senior Patrick Datz.

Kaplan struggled by shooting a 25-over-par 241. Competing as an individual Datz shot a 25-over-par 241 as well.