Gophers end Goodwin in 17th

Brad Bobel

While March Madness took over television airwaves this weekend, there was also madness on the Stanford golf course, where 24 teams met in the Goodwin.

Minnesota finished in 17th place, shooting 28-over par on the weekend. The University of Alabama-Birmingham and Southern Methodist University tied for first, both shooting 23-under par.

“We wanted to do better, everyone would agree. A few mistakes cost us too many strokes,” freshman Rúnar Arnórsson said. “A few rounds were good, a couple could be better, but we made some progress.”

After a tough second round where they shot 15-over par, the Gophers rebounded and shot their lowest round of the tournament, posting a 6-over par.

“We ask the guys to get up with a fresh start, but the guys worked hard,” head coach John Carlson said. “We had some good scores, but it was bittersweet.”

Junior Jon DuToit led the Gophers, shooting a team-low even par (73-67-70 — 210). He rebounded from his first round of 3-over par and posted a round of 3-under par and one of even-par to tie for 26th place overall.

“We were not surprised by how he played,” Carlson said. “He works so hard and always picks up his game in the spring.”

Arnórsson was close behind, scoring a 4-over par (70-75-69 — 214). He finished the final round with a 69, which tied him for the lowest round of the day for Minnesota with sophomore Jose Mendez. The freshman finished in a tie for 50th place.

“It was a good feeling to get off to a good start,” Arnórsson said. “I got momentum going in the middle of the round, and it’s always good to shoot in the 60s.”

Mendez, the team’s top golfer, struggled in the Goodwin, finishing in a tie for 80th. An 8-over par (78) in round two was his worst round of the tournament, and for the first time all year he didn’t finish first on the team. “The staff didn’t know how to react to him since this is the first time he played like this,” Carlson said. “He took it in stride because elite players have confidence in their game.”

Freshman Riley Johnson tied for 118th place, shooting a 20-over par (75-77-78 — 230), and sophomore Matt Rachey finished in a tie for 121st place as he shot 21-over par, one stroke behind Johnson.

“Riley needs to be more consistent as he has shown at times,” Carlson said.

The Gophers ended the final round with three players shooting par or better — the previous two rounds only had one player achieve that feat.

“It was a good sign for the team. We needed that,” Arnórsson said. “It gave us a little bit of confidence, and we will need that to win the Big Ten championship again.”

Despite some of the high scores in the tournament, the tournament’s course and environment were favorable.

“The course played fairly easy, and the weather was perfect,” Carlson said. “The pin positions in the last two rounds were difficult, but there were a lot of red numbers.”

With less than one month until the Big Ten championship, Minnesota will need to put together some consistent rounds in its next tournament if it wants to defend its title.

“Our top three players need to be on the offense, and we need to have more consistency from the guys at a high level,” Carlson said.