Despite recording their lowest three-round total in two months, the No. 20 Gophers men’s golf team finished fourth Saturday at the Kent Invitational in Ravenna, Ohio.
Minnesota was in second place at the end of the first day after shooting rounds of 284 and 288, holding a two-stroke lead over Toledo at 14 over par. But the final day proved crucial as the Gophers were passed by both Toledo and Miami.
The Gophers were led by freshman Martin Le Mesurier, who finished in a five-way tie for 11th at 7-over par with a three-round total of 217. Junior Rob Kerr and sophomore Jeff Barney tied for 23rd with 11-over scores of 221. Sophomore Bill Thompson shot a 222 and placed 30th, and senior captain Mark Halverson rounded out the Gophers scoring in a 47th-place tie at 228.
Coming into the Kent Invitational, Minnesota had hopes of winning the meet, so Saturday’s performance was tough for the team to accept.
“For the first two rounds, we played pretty good golf and then we kind of faltered at the end,” Kerr said. “It was a little disappointing because we were in second place, and we thought we had a good chance to win.”
Even though the Gophers said they were upset about their showing over the weekend, the decent placing proved two things.
First, the team virtually assured themselves of a berth in the playoffs with their respectable showing. Minnesota entered the weekend ranked second in District IV and managed to tie or finish above both Michigan and Kent State, two of the seven teams vying for six playoff spots in the NCAA Central Regional on May 15-17. The regional parings will be announced either today or Tuesday.
Second, the Gophers re-established themselves after a string of inconsistent performances this spring. Minnesota started the spring season with a disappointing 10th-place finish out of 14 teams at the Puerto Rico Classic. Then the team got hot and had back-to-back top-five placings in the Bridges All-America and Ashworth Invitationals, followed by upsetting sixth- and seventh-place performances at the Dr. Pepper and Marshall Invitationals.
“We showed signs that we’re back,” Kerr said. “We’re a lot better now than we were two and a half weeks ago.”