Gophers appear ready for Big Tens

Minnesota placed eighth in the Big Ten in each of the past two seasons.

Carmen Laguna practices putting Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.

Daily File Photo, Christopher Selleck

Carmen Laguna practices putting Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.

David Nelson

In 2009, Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine dubbed the Pete Dye course in French Lick, Ind., as America’s Best New Public Golf Course.

This weekend, members of the Gophers women’s golf team will challenge that course at the Big Ten championships.

“You have to play it smart,” head coach Michele Redman said. “It’s tempting to maybe take a chance on a shot that you maybe should not. And I think my kids are smart. … Not everybody has that.”

Redman praised junior Carmen Laguna in particular for her “smarts” on the golf course. Laguna, who has been the team’s most consistent golfer this year, has used that intelligence to her advantage en route to three top-20 finishes during the spring season.

“She’s a hard worker. She’s very consistent,” Redman said. “I told her this for the last couple of weeks: ‘You are the smartest player in this conference.’”

Laguna’s play down the stretch has paced the Gophers, helping the team finish in the top half of the standings in all but one tournament during the spring season.

Redman said the team’s ability to defeat high-ranked opponents this season is very encouraging.

“It’s one thing winning tournaments, but it’s another thing winning tournaments when you have higher-ranked teams there,” Redman said.

Freshman Emie Peronnin has been another strong presence for the Gophers. She boasts a pair of top-20 finishes during the spring, and she has competed in all five tournaments.

“Emie’s getting a lot more consistent with her ball striking,” Redman said. “She’s got the potential to be an All-American.”

Though the Gophers certainly bring talent to the Big Ten championships, Redman said she’s kept her expectations to a minimum to avoid adding extra pressure.

“I told them all I expect … is for them to bring their best,” Redman said. “If we stick to our game plan and not worry about the outcome as much, we’ll get the result that we want.”

The Gophers return to the Big Ten championships after finishing eighth in each of the last two seasons. Minnesota should have some confidence as it approaches its third conference tournament under Redman’s direction.

“They’re ready to play,” Redman said. “I’m excited with some results I’ve seen this spring.”