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A tough field proves too much for the Gophers in Wayzata

Minnesota shot a 45-over-par, which was good enough for eighth place

The Minnesota men’s golf team had high expectations going into the Gopher Invitational this weekend but couldn’t put together everything necessary.

The Gophers finished a disappointing eighth this weekend at Wayzata.

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Gopher players and coaches showed a clearly present frustration.

“(I was) extremely disappointed in our team performance this weekend,” coach Brad James said.

Junior Victor Almstrom echoed the words of James.

“I felt coming into this week that we had a good starting five but we faced tough conditions and nervousness this weekend,” Almstrom said. “It was a learning experience.”

The tournament was billed to be a battle between some of last year’s top teams including Lamar, Michigan State and Minnesota, but only the Cardinals fit that billing. Lamar won the tournament by 20 strokes over Arkansas and Wisconsin.

The Cardinals shot a four-over-par 868 to take the top honors. They were led by tournament medalist senior Casey Clendenon who shot a one-under-par 215. He was matched by Badger junior Danny Zimmerman.

The Spartans, who finished last year ranked No. 23 in the World/Nike Golf Coaches Associations poll, could also not get in rhythm this weekend

and finished seventh with a 39-over-par 903. The Gophers shot a 45-over-par 909.

They began the tournament Saturday by shooting an opening round 308, which was followed by an improved 304. Sunday, they improved once again with a 297 to round out their eighth-place team scoring.

Almstrom said inexperience might have contributed to some of the problems this weekend for Minnesota.

“This was a learning experience for the new guys – it was the first tournament for some of them,” Almstrom said.

Although as a team Minnesota struggled, they had three bright spots individually.

Almstrom fired an even-par-216 to place third, senior Clayton Rask shot a one-over-par 217, and senior Andy Paulson shot a three-over-par 219.

“Individually Clayton, Victor, and Andy played very well,” James said. “It was very nice to see Andy come back with a good event.”

Paulson played as an individual which prevented his scores from being tabulated toward the team total, which turned into an unfortunate break for the Gophers.

Minnesota’s high scores as a team came from the other three starters’ rough weekend. Sophomore Ben Pisani, senior Patrick Datz and sophomore Thomas Campbell combined to shoot an average 25-over-par 241 which was at the heart of the Gophers’ problems.

Rask said he feels Minnesota has the talent, but just needs to get the desire to improve in the future.

“We just have to get two or three guys that show they want it,” he said. “The spots are there to be filled.”

Finding the right combination of starters will be extremely important for Minnesota, and is the next step in the process of improving from their first tournament of the year.

“The other guys need to step up to the plate and start performing,” James said.

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