Rough rounds in Wisconsin spell last place for Minnesota

C.J. Spang

Heading into this past weekend’s Wisconsin Invitational, Minnesota’s women’s golf team wasn’t looking to repeat last season’s start.

In 2004, the Gophers started out the season with a 12th place finish at the Lady Northern tournament and they did that once again this year, taking 12th in Madison, 76 shots out of first place.

“I’m mystified,” coach Katie Hanneman said. “We played a practice round on Saturday and we played extremely well, better than we had all year.

“I think the nerves and anxiousness just got to them.”

Minnesota was unable to recover from a slow start, firing a 321 and a 320 in their two rounds Sunday, which put the Gophers in last place after day one.

“After the first two rounds we were really down on ourselves,” junior Samantha Braschler said. “We played a little better (Monday), and I think if we had another day, we could have beaten a few teams.”

The Gophers fired a 314 on Monday, but it was not enough to get them out of last place.

Purdue routed the competition with a three-round total of 879, finishing 17 strokes ahead of second place Texas A&M.

Purdue’s Onnarin Sattayabanphot earned medalist honors with a 1-under 215.

But all was not lost for Minnesota. In her first collegiate tournament, freshman Suvi Mantyniemi led the Gophers with a three-round total of 232 to put her in a tie for 29th.

“She played great for a freshman in her first event,” Hanneman said. “I was very happy with that.”

Mantyniemi’s teammates were equally impressed with the youngster’s performance.

“She doesn’t play like a freshman,” Braschler said. “I’ve been impressed by her game since she got here.”

The rest of the Gophers didn’t fare as well as Mantyniemi. Sophie Stubbs finished tied for 53rd, Young Na Lee was tied for 59th, Samantha Braschler tied for 60th and Lindsay Somrock was 62nd.

But the team said the scores they posted were not indicative of the team’s talent or potential.

“I think we all know we have a ton of talent on the team,” Somrock said. “We didn’t play terrible, but we didn’t play to our ability level either.”

Braschler echoed those thoughts. “A bunch of us played the worst we possibly could,” she said. “We got the worst (tournament) out of the way.”

Now Minnesota will take the momentum they gained from their final round and try to get back on track.

Hopefully for the Gophers, history will repeat itself and the women can defend their title at this weekend’s Minnesota Invitational.

“Every team has to start somewhere,” Somrock said. “We just need to use this week to prepare and get ready to compete.”