Minnesota needs strong showing in Big Ten tournament.

ItâÄôs a cry heard from most Big Ten teams in almost every sport and in every season: It all comes down to the Big Ten tournament. ThatâÄôs where the University of Minnesota womenâÄôs golf team is now after finishing 13th out of 15 teams in the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational this weekend. It wouldâÄôve taken a surprising win, or very high finish, at the invitational to get into position for an NCAA tournament berth. They came into the weekend ranked No. 79 in the NCAA head-to-head rankings and would need to end up around the top-50 to get an at-large bid. But after struggling on a difficult course in Columbus, Ohio, they will now need a high finish, or perhaps a win, in the conference tournament to make it in. That is a significant task in itself, with No. 9 Purdue as the overwhelming favorite in the tournament held at their own course. If they get past Purdue, there is also No. 16 Michigan State. âÄúIf we can beat one of those teams then we can make a pretty good case,âÄù senior Paige Bromen said. âÄúThatâÄôs going to be a real tough thing to do, but we know we can do it. The way we played this weekend was just not worthy of the preparation we put in.âÄù At least, players said, the Scarlet Course set them up well for the Big Ten tournament. On a course that left the menâÄôs team reeling over its difficulty, the women had similar problems, shooting a plus-104 in three rounds. Individually, they recorded eight different scores of double-digit above-par. Sophomore Mary Narzisi took the worst of it, shooting plus-13, -12 and -10. But players got a chance to play on a course that demands good course management and shot selection, as PurdueâÄôs course also does. âÄúI think itâÄôs really a good thing to play a course like this right before heading to Big Tens, because it really challenges you,âÄù associate head coach Kris Wessinger said. âÄúBut we canâÄôt get wrapped up in blaming how we played on the course difficulty because everybodyâÄôs playing on the same one.âÄù And even without an NCAA berth, itâÄôs been a historic season for the team. They came into the tournament averaging the lowest stroke total since the program started in 1975. TheyâÄôve finished in the top-10 in eight of their nine tournaments, including five top-five finishes. Sophomore Teresa Puga, from Spain, broke the fall-scoring record earlier in the year and came into the weekend on pace to finish with the fourth-best spring average âÄî which would add up to a Gophers record for season stroke average. They even broke the school record for the lowest 54-hole score in October, shooting an 885 at the Las Vegas Invitation, ironically where they had their lowest finish of the season (16th). The Gophers, who had two weeks off before this weekendâÄôs tournament, leave Wednesday for Purdue and have just two practices to prepare. âÄúYou canâÄôt really do much technically with your game in two practices, so weâÄôre just going to make sure weâÄôre solid mentally and ready to work with what we have,âÄù Bromen said. âÄúHopefully we can pull something out.