Minnesota seeks challenger for No. 1

No Gophers golfer has kept up with Bronson La’Cassie, and that’s their problem.

David McCoy

Minnesota’s men’s golf team can’t complain about the leadership provided by Bronson La’Cassie.

La’Cassie is just a sophomore but has already developed into a solid No. 1 golfer for the Gophers.

But, coach Brad James said, that’s sort of the problem.

“One guy has played very well,” James said. “But we need to have the other four guys start to challenge that No. 1 spot.”

Those four guys have actually been five. Along with Ben Greve and Ryan Paulson, three other Gophers – Niall Turner, Jurrian Van Der Vaart and Josh Persons – have each filled the final two spots twice in Minnesota’s three tournaments so far.

And as Minnesota heads to the Augusta State Invitational this weekend in Augusta, Ga., James desperately wants at least one of those guys, if not more, to step up to the plate and become a complement to La’Cassie.

The golfers recognize it, but still need to put it into action.

“There are a couple of guys, including myself, who have been around a while, who need to need to say, ‘OK, we’re not where we want to be,’ ” Paulson said. ” ‘One or both of us need to shoot rounds in the 60s.’

“Bronson’s great, but he can’t be a one-man show.”

In the Gophers’ most recent tournament – the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz. – La’Cassie set a new career-best round by firing a 65 on the last day.

It is also the third-best 18-hole score in school history. His 54-hole score of 207 is also a new career-best and is the seventh-best in school history.

“Time and again, Bronson’s proven to be the best golfer on our team,” Persons said. “He’s great competition for us, and he’s carrying us right now.”

But that’s what James said is frustrating about the situation.

While La’Cassie has been solid as the team’s top golfer, Minnesota knows just having one guy carry the team won’t be enough.

La’Cassie has been Minnesota’s top finisher in each of its three tournaments so far. He averages a 54-hole score of 212.7. His closest teammate in that respect is Paulson, who has a 217.7 average. Turner and Greve are the next two after that, with respective averages of 221.5 and 224.7.

“We have the luxury of having six guys,” James said. “But out of those six guys, we have one No. 1 and five No. 5s. For us to win the Big Ten Championships, those guys have to step up and say, ‘I’m going to challenge Bronson.’ Because if they don’t, we’re just going to be a midrange Big Ten team and a top-25 team. With the type of talent on this team, that’s just unacceptable.”

Women at Indiana

Minnesota’s women’s golf team is headed to the Indiana Invitational this weekend in Bloomington, Ind.

The Gophers are riding the success of Big Ten golfer of the week Terra Petsinger, the first Minnesota player to take the honor since 2000.

Petsinger said Minnesota, which has so far only been able to bring six golfers to its tournaments this season, will bring seven, because Lindsay Somrock will be competing as an individual.