Minnesota hosts its first tournament since 2000 this weekend

C.J. Spang

Past success, recent defeat and a whole lot of talent will be the recipe Minnesota’s men’s golf team hopes to use to cook up a winning dish this season.

The team is only four years removed from a national championship and returns four of five starters from last year’s squad that took fourth in the Big Ten.

But fourth in the Big Ten and a disappointing 16th place in the NCAA Central Regional meant a disappointing finish to the season, and this year’s team won’t accept the same outcome.

“It was a huge downer last year,” junior Niall Turner said. “The evening after the regional, we were just completely devastated.

“Just the past experience of letting ourselves down is what’s motivating us.”

But Minnesota doesn’t just have motivation, they have talent too. The Gophers have 13 men on their roster, all of whom have the ability to compete at the collegiate level.

“Those guys who aren’t starting could step in at any time and be impact players,” coach Brad James said. “If someone doesn’t perform, someone else will.”

One player expected to perform day in and day out is junior Bronson La’Cassie, a two-time All-American and the team’s number one golfer.

La’Cassie averaged just more than 72 strokes per round with 15 rounds under par.

“I’m expecting big things from myself,” La’Cassie said. “I’d like to win a tournament, and I don’t see why I can’t make First-Team All-American.”

But the team needs more than just his talent. It needs his leadership more than anything.

“We didn’t have leadership last year,” James said. “This year it’s going to have to come from Bronson.

“He needs to take the team on his back – and carry them to a Big Ten Championship.”

Minnesota will start their quest toward a Big Ten championship this weekend in the Minnesota Invitational at Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minn.

It will be the first time in five years that Minnesota has hosted an NCAA men’s golf tournament.

The 12-team, 54-hole event will feature some of the best teams in the country, including Washington and Georgia State. Both teams participated in last year’s NCAA Championships.

Also featured at the event will be last year’s individual NCAA champion, James Lepp from Washington.

But Minnesota will have the advantage of knowing the course, and, they hope, a big crowd rooting for them.

Women’s golf to host Minnesota Invitational

Minnesota’s women’s golf team will be hosting the Minnesota Invitational this weekend at Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul. The 54-hole event starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.