Men’s golf team faces Wildcats at Big Ten tourney

The Big Ten men’s golf championship opens on Friday in fine fashion. And it’s possible the first round of the four-round tournament hosted by Purdue features the most intriguing matchup.
Minnesota junior James McLean and Northwestern junior Luke Donald are scheduled to tee off in the early afternoon, pitting national champion versus national champion.
McLean won the NCAA title in 1998 as a freshman. Since then he has not been as successful, distracted by injury and a lingering question of whether to turn pro or not.
Donald is a different story. The junior took the national crown away from McLean last year and has since shown he deserves it. Donald is currently ranked as the best collegiate golfer.
The combination of Donald and teammate Jess Daley (picked Big Ten golfer of the week twice this season) bodes well for the Wildcats as they looks to defend last year’s Big Ten tournament title. Northwestern finished first, just a few strokes ahead of Minnesota at least year’s tournament.
Minnesota finished close behind in second. The Gophers hope they’re poised to win their first conference tournament since they hosted in 1972. To do it, Minnesota has to play four steady rounds at the tough Kampen Course.
Despite finishing in the basement of conference standings, a familiarity with Kampen puts the host Boilermakers in the mix. The unique Kampen design sports tall rough, waste bunkers, pot bunkers and several bunkers in an environmental conservation.
Kampen might be a good preparation tool. After the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers head to NCAA regionals.

— Sarah Mitchell