Gophers golfers land

Sarah Mitchell

The third-ranked Minnesota men’s golf team added another player to its already competitive roster on Saturday. But unfortunately for the Gophers, the Australian prospect won’t be eligible for competition for more than a year.
“I’m coming across,” Ben Meyers said, ceasing the feelings of anxiety surrounding the golf program.
The NCAA, which could not be reached for comment, labeled Meyers a partial qualifier on Wednesday because he took the SAT after attending a post-secondary institution. Because of this title, Meyers can only practice with the team until winter of 1999, when he becomes eligible to compete as a Gopher.
Despite the ruling, the 22-year-old golfer decided on Saturday to leave his homeland and sacrifice a year of competition. Meyers said the lack of big tournaments in Australia and the opportunity to get a degree in kinesiology lured him over.
“I was actually thinking that if they ruled against me I was not going to go over,” Meyers said. “But (assistant coach) Brad (James) called and said, `You’ve got to think long term.'”
The discrepancy revolves around when Meyers took the SAT. In America, a student/athlete must take the test prior to attending college. In Australia, no SAT rule exists.
With no intentions of studying in the U.S., Meyers enrolled in an Australian college in 1995 without taking the test. In May of 1996, Meyers dropped out of school to concentrate on golf.
The dedication to golf paid off. James, a native of Australia who also lured NCAA champion James McLean to Minnesota, began recruiting Meyers in April of 1998.
By this time, Meyers had already taken the test because of plans to apply to American schools. But the NCAA decided the rule still applied to the Australian, saying he should have taken the test in 1995.
“I think it needs to be looked at in regards to other countries,” James said of the SAT standard. “Those people don’t know what’s going on over there.”
Meyers opted to say nothing about the NCAA ruling, fearing his words might be used against him. But Gophers coach John Means was clearly let down by the decision made following six months of appeals, calling the rule “bogus.”
“We were very convinced the NCAA would rule otherwise,” Means said. “It seemed like a no-brainer.”
The Gophers finished the fall season with a No. 3 national ranking. For this reason, the team feels the ruling won’t affect its chances of claiming the national title at Hazeltine in June.
All the team knows about Meyers has come from Means, James and McLean.
“I suppose they’re a bit bummed there’s not going to be another Aussie on the team,” McLean said of his teammates.
McLean speaks highly of Meyers, having competed against him several times in Australia. The sophomore has the edge after finishing higher in two of three meetings.
Meyers said the different coaching style in the U.S. — Americans concentrate more on course management and the short game — has pushed McLean and increased the talent gap between the two. Meyers said McLean’s driving game is also a factor.
“He hits it so far,” Meyers said. “He’s a freak.”
Meyers is scheduled to permanently join the long-driving McLean and his Gophers teammates around Christmas. Despite the difference in climate, Meyers is “dying to come over.”
“Apparently it gets pretty cold over there,” Meyers said. “I’m going to have to rug up.”