Mendez leads Gophers to second place

Jose Mendez tied for first individually with an impressive score of 3-under par.

Minnesota's Jon Trasamar plays Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, at the Edina Country Club.

Daily File Photos

Minnesota’s Jon Trasamar plays Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, at the Edina Country Club.

Dane Mizutani

Minnesota’s men’s golf team finished up Tuesday with a team score of 18-over par, good for a second-place finish at the Duck Invitational in Eugene, Ore.

The Gophers sat all alone in fourth at the start of the third and final round, but consistent play, coupled with an implosion from Oregon and Loyola Marymount, paved the way to a second-place spot on the podium.

Oregon State blew away the rest of the field with a final team score of 9-over par.

“We had confidence coming into this event,” head coach John Carlson said, “and I really think the guys really came through for us.”

Carlson said the third-round conditions were especially poor because of wind and rain.

“It was probably as difficult a golf course we’ll see in college this year,” Carlson said.

Those conditions didn’t seem to affect Minnesota freshman Jose Mendez.

Mendez tied for the individual crown with an aggregate score of 3-under par. His previous best finish before the victory was a tie for sixth earlier this year.

“I can’t believe I won, because I didn’t expect to win at all during my freshman year,” he said. “I’m just really happy with myself.”

Mendez shot a 1-under par on the final day of play to secure the victory.

“We knew the kind of player we were getting in him when he came to campus,” Carlson said of Mendez. “He is comfortable in the lead … and now with a win under his belt, the sky’s the limit for him.”

Mendez became the first individual winner in Carlson’s four-year tenure, and he gave the Gophers their first individual victory since 2007.

Minnesota senior Jon Trasamar was second on the team and tied for 12th overall with a final score of 4-over par. Sophomore Jon DuToit (8-over par) came after Trasamar and was followed by senior Alex Gaugert (14-over par) and freshman Matt Rachey (17-over par).

“I think I was most proud of the fact that everyone on the team contributed in each of the three rounds,” Carlson said. “It was a total team effort, and now we have our eyes set on bigger and better things.”

Minnesota has been at a slight disadvantage to start the season compared to teams on the West Coast. While those teams have the added luxury of practicing outdoors, the Gophers have spent much of the last three months cooped up inside.

Still, Carlson said he doesn’t let his team use weather as an excuse.

“I don’t think weather has really affected us,” he said. “It goes to show that hard work, perseverance and confidence in our abilities goes a long way in this sport.”

Minnesota will have a slight break when it returns to the Twin Cities. And with the weather steadily improving, it might get to practice outdoors sometime next week.

Mendez said he’s ready to get outside.

“It’s not a big deal practicing indoors,” he said, “but there is nothing like practicing outdoors and watching the ball fly. I’m excited for that.”