Golfers finish sixth at Buckeye

Jim Schortemeyer

With a postseason berth on the line, the Minnesota women’s golf team left a bid to the NCAA regional tournament in jeopardy with a sixth-place finish at the 54-hole Buckeye Invitational this weekend.
The Gophers admitted this weekend was less about winning and more about earning a visit to the regionals. But they needed to beat Michigan State and Purdue to do so.
The early results were decidedly below average. The Gophers were tied with the Spartans, but still sat seven strokes behind the Boilermakers after the first round.
And though they remained within striking distance, Minnesota couldn’t convert on its opportunity. Michigan State and Purdue went on to shoot 310 and 307, respectively, in the second round. Minnesota shot 318, which might have ended its NCAA regional aspirations.
The Gophers finished with a 315 in the final round, 19 strokes behind Michigan State. Ohio State won the tournament, Purdue took second and Michigan State finished fifth.
Minnesota had been on a self-described hot streak before this tournament, having finished no lower than fourth place this spring. The results were so encouraging that coach Kathy Williams was named the Ladies Professional Golf Association Midwest Coach of the Year for 1998.
But the Gophers’ consistent results took a turn for the worse at Ohio State. Ordinarily Minnesota’s golfers finish in a pack somewhere in the top 20, making the Buckeye Invitational an uncharacteristic meet.
Senior Donna Boom was the only Minnesota golfer to finish below 80 in each of the three rounds on the par-72 course. Boom finished alone in ninth place, the only Gopher in the top 20. The rest of Minnesota’s veteran lineup finished between 24th and 49th out of the 89 finishers.
While most of the Gophers showed signs of improvement over the three rounds, it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent its worst finish of the spring.
Now the Gophers’ attention will turn to the Big Ten Tournament next weekend, but their hopes of winning are faint. Minnesota has been beaten by Indiana or Ohio State at the last three tournaments.
The Gophers have shown they are capable of beating Michigan State and Purdue, but have not been able to get a groundbreaking win.