Gophers play in final tune-up tournament

Minnesota will play for the conference championship in two weeks in Indiana.

David Nelson

The Gophers men’s golf team ended its fall season on a sour note with three of its last four tournaments ending in eighth-place finishes or worse.

But with the way the team has played this spring, it seems the flowers aren’t the only things starting to blossom.

“When we won at Seton Hall [in October], that win has really propelled us to thinking more like winners,” said head coach John Carlson. “I’ve got a bunch of really confident guys right now.”

Minnesota freshman Jose Mendez has helped lead the Gophers to three consecutive podium finishes.

“I think our leader on the golf course is Jose Mendez,” Carlson said. “He’s certainly the best freshman in the Big Ten, and he plays like it every week.”

Mendez has been a revelation for Minnesota. He’s produced the best round average for the team in the fall and has followed suit so far in the spring season.

“I found something in my swing that made me feel better [and] more confident,” Mendez said.

Mendez’s confidence is certainly showing after he tied for first in Oregon in late March and took third at Iowa a week ago.

Gophers fifth-year senior Jon Trasamar, who pairs with Mendez on road trips, has helped his development. Still, Trasamar has produced his own impressive numbers over the past couple of weeks.

“Jon Trasamar’s played very solid,” Carlson said. “I expected him to have a good spring. He’s had three top-20 finishes, and that consistency has really been important.”

Though Minnesota can celebrate its success, Carlson said he recognizes the team is far from a finished product.

Now the Gophers have their sights set on the Rutherford Intercollegiate in Pennsylvania and the opportunity it gives them to improve before the Big Ten championships in two weeks.

“We expect to go to Penn State and win,” Carlson said. “We now expect that every time we tee it up.”