Minnesota finishes regular season on upbeat note

The Gophers finished 11th out of 17 teams at the Indiana Invitation this week.

by Brian Deutsch

Minnesota interim women’s golf coach Kristine Wessinger has two weeks to decide which golfers she will bring to the Big Ten Championships later this month in East Lansing, Mich.

Fortunately for Wessinger, the Gophers’ performance this weekend at the Indiana Invitational at Crooked Stick will likely make her decision a little easier.

The Gophers finished the two-day event in 11th place with a 50-over 626 – 23 strokes behind tournament champion Michigan.

But the team managed to piece together an ensemble of above-average rounds that amounted to a pair of bests for two Minnesota golfers.

Minnesota finished sixth among the seven Big Ten programs participating in the tournament.

Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois finished the competition in first, second and third, respectively, while all finished within six strokes of each other.

Northwestern finished sixth at the invite, 11 strokes off the lead, while Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota finished ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively.

Just three strokes separated the ninth-place Hoosiers from the 11th-place Gophers – giving the team a decent outlook for its chances at the Big Ten Championships.

“I’m very happy with the finish we had. I wish we could have gotten Indiana and Iowa, but we were close,” Wessinger said.

“We definitely can compete with Indiana and Iowa, and I think the girls are excited and looking forward to the Big Tens.”

Minnesota will have plenty of time to prepare for the Big Ten tournament, and getting ready for the conference showdown is something junior Kelli Berns is excited for.

“We just really need to work on practicing in a competitive situation and playing to compete (with other teams),” Berns said. “Everything we do, we’re just trying to build our confidence for the last tournament.”

Berns led Minnesota with a seven-over 151 in Indiana, finishing in a tie for ninth place.

Berns was tied for 23rd after day one, but a two-over second round jumped the junior into her first top-10 finish of the year.

But the story of the tournament was Michigan, as the Wolverines jumped from fourth to first over the last day of play – finishing with a 27-over 603.

After trailing then-leading Michigan State by nine strokes following day one, Michigan fired a tournament-low 295 Tuesday to overtake their in-state rival.

Sophomore Young Na Lee also had a strong final round for the Gophers, firing an even 72 Tuesday that catapulted her from 70th place to 30th with a tournament total 11-over 155.

Sophomore Anne Martin carded the best round of her career Monday with a three-over 75, which landed her in eighth place going into the final round.

But the sophomore couldn’t repeat the performance Tuesday – shooting an 11-over 83 in the final round.

“That’s what a team is for Ö when someone doesn’t play great, there is someone there to pick up their slack,” Martin said. “I was lucky (Tuesday) that I had two teammates that came in low, and I did that for them (Monday).”

Martin finished the tournament in a 46th-place tie with a 14-over 158.

Sophomore Sydney Liles and freshman Christine Herzog rounded out the tournament for Minnesota – each firing a 21-over 165.