Tenth seeded Minnesota snags second

Though the Gophers had all but secured an NCAA tournament bid before this weekendâÄôs Big Ten tournament, it was a good chance to build some momentum. They certainly did that. The menâÄôs golf team finished 26 over par in the Big Ten tournament this weekend, finishing in second behind a top-20 Illinois team. They finished five strokes ahead of No. 10 Indiana, which was led by the No. 2 golfer in the country, Jorge Campillo. âÄúI knew we were capable of this, but I donâÄôt think many people expected it,âÄù associate head coach Andrew Tank said. âÄúIf Illinois had faltered down the stretch, we wouldâÄôve been right there âÄî but still, very happy with how that went.âÄù What makes that impressive is that the Gophers came into the tournament ranked outside of the top 60, making them the 10th-worst ranked team in the 11-team tournament. On top of that, the team has only been able to practice outside regularly for less than a month. And just two tournaments ago, they finished 16th out of 17 teams in Augusta, Ga. But at Penn StateâÄôs Blue Course, the Gophers put it all together, with big performances from freshman Derek Chang and senior Ben Pisani. Chang, who has struggled with consistency this season, surprised the entire tournament and finished in a tie for third place. Chang held strong for all four rounds and finished with a 2-over 286, including an even-par 71 on Sunday when he spent much of the day in second place. âÄúI knew I was capable of this,âÄù Chang said. âÄúIâÄôve put in the work, and I knew that the results have come. Things came together this weekend, and it was a lot of fun.âÄù Chang, who came to the Gophers as a highly touted golfer from Georgia, suffered a big collapse less than a month ago in Augusta, shooting a plus-9 in the tournamentâÄôs final day as part of the teamâÄôs bigger overall collapse. Last time out, against slightly weaker competition in the Robert Kepler Invitational, Chang finished in a tie for sixth place. âÄúHeâÄôs been playing really great golf all spring,âÄù Pisani said. âÄúSometimes youâÄôre going to struggle in golf, but heâÄôs obviously a really, really talented player. When he puts things together like that, you know it wonâÄôt be his last time at the top of the leaderboard.âÄù Pisani started with a 1-under through his first 18 holes and finished 1-over for the final three rounds, giving him a 2-over 286 final score, leaving him tied with Chang for third. With three weeks to prepare for the tournament, the Gophers navigated the notoriously difficult course, which is a short course (around 7,200 yards) with narrow fairways, thick rough and small greens. The Gophers will likely jump significantly in the NCAA head-to-head rankings and almost surely make the NCAA tournament. The menâÄôs NCAA tournament regionals will be May 14 to 17 after the field is announced Monday evening. The NCAA championships will be held in Toledo, Ohio from May 27 to 30. âÄúEverybodyâÄôs spirits are up right now,âÄù Tank said. âÄúThe results are more in line now with everybodyâÄôs expectations. I think some exciting things can happen.âÄù