Men’s golf looks to improve its short game

Adam Fink

With the starting rotation essentially set, Minnesota’s men’s golf team has one main goal this weekend: to improve on its short game.

Because of the uncooperative weather in Minnesota during the winter months, the 11th-ranked Gophers are still trying to find their way around the putting greens when they tee off in the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday.

“Our goal isn’t to peak now,” coach Brad James said. “We are still finding our way around in the short game. It’s the time of the year to work on that.”

While four of the five main starting spots have been locked up, James is looking for the golfer in the fifth spot to impress him this weekend.

David Morgan, Clayton Rask, Justin Smith and Bronson La’Cassie have started both of the Gophers’ previous two spring competitions and have solidified their starting spots.

Although it hasn’t been determined, the final spot will likely go to junior Ben Greve or sophomore Peter Anderson.

Greve, who was the odd man out last year, has impressed James, while the Gophers third-year coach said Anderson is also playing well right now.

“Basically it is who wants to show me the most,” James said. “There is going to be lineup changes in the next few tournaments.”

While this competition will force the golfers to improve, the situation only exists due to injury.

Ryan Paulson, who finished even or below par in two of the last three fall tournaments, separated his shoulder during the Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 24 and will be out four to eight weeks.

James would also like to see a better finish by the Gophers. After winning three of their four fall tournaments, the team hasn’t finished better than eighth – albeit against top talent.

Minnesota, winner of the 2002 NCAA title, begins a stretch Sunday of three tournaments in three weekends, spanning the country from Arizona to North Carolina.

Although the Gophers would like to continue to improve each week, they understand it’s all in preparation for the NCAA Championships at the end of May.

“We have been playing some top teams,” James said. “We are still building. We want to be playing our best come May and June.”