If losing a berth into the 2004 NCAA Championships by one stroke was a wake-up call, consider today’s tournament for Minnesota’s men’s golf team a double shot of espresso.
The team embarks on its second tournament of the fall season, the Windon Classic, in Chicago today and will compete against some of the best teams in the country.
The field features defending national champion California, four teams that participated in the 2004 national championship and nine teams that earned 2004 NCAA regional berths. Add seven 2004 All-Americans to the mix, and the Gophers will play with some elite company.
“It’s a good test for us so early in the season,” coach Brad James said.
The course, Conway Farms, will prove a challenge as well.
James called the links-style course “very long and demanding.”
Minnesota, however, has won the tournament three times – in 1994, 1998 and 2003.
The Gophers come off a tie for fourth place out of 10 teams in their last tournament. Two of their golfers, sophomore Bronson La’Cassie and junior Josh Persons, finished in the top 10.
La’Cassie and Persons will compete today, with sophomore Niall Turner, junior Ryan Paulson and senior Ben Greve rounding out the lineup.
Paulson and Greve struggled in their first two rounds last week, but both came around to shoot their best scores on the second day of play.
“I was very pleased with their performance in the last round. I thought they’d come back well,” James said.
“Conditions were a little bit more difficult the last day. The pins were a little harder, the greens were a little faster, and it was good to see them come back with some low scores.”
Women in Indianapolis
Minnesota’s women’s golf team will try to capitalize on its course knowledge today as it competes in the Shootout at the Legends in Indianapolis.
“The girls like the course, which I think is a huge advantage,” coach Katie Weiss said.
Senior Terra Petsinger will play the course for a third time, leading with her “usual consistency,” Weiss said.
After finishing 12th out of 15 teams at their first tournament, the Gophers went on to win their home event, the Minnesota Invitational, on Sept. 19.
Petsinger, junior Sarah Butler, sophomores Sophie Stubbs, Louise Fleming and Samantha Braschler, and freshman Emily Brand will compete today.
But that won’t necessarily be the lineup for the rest of the season.
“A big majority of (the team) has been shooting right around the same numbers, so it’s kind of become a little bit more competitive,” Weiss said.
Both the men’s and the women’s teams will play two rounds today and finish with a final round Tuesday.