Petsinger aims to bring Gophers out of depths of Big Ten

Terra Petsinger enters this weekend’s Minnesota Invitational as a defending champ.

by David McCoy

The Minnesota Invitational, which Minnesota’s women’s golf team hosts this weekend at Les Bolstad Golf Course, has a special significance for team captain Terra Petsinger.

It was in that tournament last year when Petsinger recorded her first collegiate tournament win.

But that’s not the reason.

“It’s not really significant to me because it’s the first tournament that I won,” Petsinger said. “It’s special to me because it’s our only home meet of the year, and our friends and family can come and watch, which is nice. They can’t do that when we’re out on the road.”

The Gophers’ top golfer last year, Petsinger shot a career-best one-under-par round of 71 during the first round of the Minnesota Invitational and won the tournament with a 12-over score of 228.

This year, the Arvilla, N.D., native is Minnesota’s bona fide top player once again.

Head coach Katie Weiss is counting on Petsinger to help the team rise up from last year’s bottom-of-the-barrel finish in the Big Ten Championships.

“Terra is a great leader and a great captain,” Weiss said. “We need her to step up this year to lead the team.”

Petsinger recognizes that fact.

“I’m here to set an example,” she said. “I try to be more of a leader off the course than on it, though, to let my teammates keep a better focus on themselves.”

In addition to leading the team on the scorecard, she has more experience than all of them.

Three years ago, Minnesota’s athletics department nearly eliminated the women’s golf program, because of budget concerns.

Petsinger is the only golfer left from that period, and she is the only senior on this year’s squad.

Being the lone senior has put a lot of pressure on Petsinger – but she said it’s good for her.

“I play better under pressure,” Petsinger said. “It definitely provides me with more motivation.”

Petsinger said she tries to keep the knowledge of her leadership position in perspective, though.

“In the past, knowing that I’m a leader on this team affected me more,” the four-year veteran said.

“But now, it’s like I try to think more about myself, because this is an individual sport. And when you think about everyone else, it’s real easy to get distracted.”

When she has been able to focus on herself, she has done well.

Last year, she led the team with three top-10 finishes and had a team-best average round of 78.06.

She’ll likely need a round

similar to the 71 of last year, if she wants to win in front of friends and family again.

To do it again?

“I just need to be mentally focused,” she said. “One shot at a time.”