Lineup change sees Gophers finish 7th at Crooked Stick Invite

Senior Ben Pisani was the only golfer to play for the team in both of its last two meets.

John Hageman

The Minnesota menâÄôs golf team showed few signs of improvement throughout the spring season, but some bright spots shown through in its last tournament before postseason play. The Gophers took seventh out of 12 teams at the Crooked Stick Invitational in Carmel, Ind., on Tuesday, shooting a 50-over par 902 to edge out Big Ten rival Wisconsin by five strokes . It was the highest the Gophers have finished since mid-October. Illinois won the event with a 7-over 859, including a tournament-best 283 in the second round. After not playing in a tournament for two weeks , the Gophers stumbled out of the gate, shooting a 23-over 307 in the first round Monday. All but one member of the team improved his score in the second round later in the day, and the team shaved off 13 strokes on the second 18. After finishing last in the Augusta Invitationa l, the lineup was completely revamped at Crooked Stick. Senior Ben Pisani was the only player from the last tournament to golf the past two days. Pisani led the Gophers with consistent play over the tournament, shooting a 7-over 220 to finish in a tie for 12th . Sophomore Derek Chang shot a team-best 2-under in the second round, which was good enough to put him in fourth place going into the final day. But Chang struggled in the final round, and ended up in a tie for 20th by shooting an 11-over 224 . Playing in his first tournament since the Windon Invitational on Oct. 4-5, junior Cameron White shaved nine strokes off his first-round score in the second and third rounds to land in a tie for 33rd with an 18-over 231, going 83-74-74. Freshmen Robert Bell and Shang Zh i brought up the rear for the Gophers, with Bell shooting a 20-over 233 for a tie in 42nd, and Zhi shooting a 22-over 235 for a tie in 47th. IllinoisâÄô Chris DeForest shot a 6-under 207 to edge out teammate Scott Langley for medalist honors. While the Gophers saw some improvement throughout the tournament from some players who donâÄôt often see the course, director of golf Brad J ames said he has not decided who will play in the Big Ten championships next weekend. âÄúThere was definitely some improvement there,âÄù James said. âÄúIt was a good test and a good warm-up for the Big Ten championships.âÄù Although the Gophers have struggled throughout the spring, they will have home-course advantage in the Big Ten championships when their conference foes travel to Windsong Golf Club in Maple Plain, Minn., on April 30. The Gophers have historically had success in the Big Ten championships, finishing runner-up in each of the last two seasons and tying for first in 2007, which gives James some confidence his team can do the same this season. âÄúObviously itâÄôs been a disappointing spring season, but the postseason brings a whole different element,âÄù James said. âÄúThis is a whole new season, so it gives us a second chance.âÄù James added the only way the Gophers could make an NCAA regional qualifier is by winning the Big Ten. This second chance is likely their last.