Gophers finish 14th in Las Vegas Invite in fall closer

Despite tough conditions, Puga shot a final round 70 for Minnesota.

Josh Katzenstein

The Gophers womenâÄôs golf team could not overcome the tough conditions in Las Vegas, sputtering to a tie for 14th out of 18 teams in their final tournament of the fall. Lead by junior Teresa Puga , Minnesota finished with a 52-over-par 916 as a team in the Las Vegas Invitational at Boulder Creek Golf Club. Despite the cold temperatures and wind gusts more than 35 mph, Puga managed to shoot a 2-under 70 in the final round Wednesday. After shooting 73 and 77 in rounds one and two, respectively, PugaâÄôs 4-over tournament was good for sixth overall. Puga started the final round with two bogeys on two three-putts but said she quickly found her groove and played pretty consistently thereafter. âÄúEverything was good: my driver, my irons, my putts,âÄù she said. âÄúI was in a tough situation sometimes, and I got really good out of there.âÄù ArizonaâÄôs Sherlyn Popelka took home medalist honors after shooting a 7-under 209 . She was under par in all three rounds and helped lead the Wildcats to a team victory. As a whole, Arizona shot 14-over, five shots better than any other team in the field. For the rest of the Gophers, junior Samantha Sommers managed to stay in the top 50, tying for 48th at 14-over. Freshman Jackie Shepherd finished 15-over, good for a tie for 54th. Senior Christine Herzog and junior Michele Edlin finished in a tie for 85th at 26-over. EdlinâÄôs second round struggles saw her finish 11-over on Tuesday, a round from which she couldnâÄôt recover. âÄúThatâÄôs just golf. You have those days once in a while,âÄù associate head coach Kristine Wessinger said of EdlinâÄôs second round. âÄú She got around it, and she obviously didnâÄôt play her best, but I think you canâÄôt dwell on those things.âÄù The Las Vegas Invitational marks the end of the fall season for Minnesota and leaves some work to be done in the offseason. The highest finish for Minnesota this fall came in the Colorado Invitational, when the Gophers placed fifth. Although the Gophers didnâÄôt win a tournament and donâÄôt have any medalists, Wessinger said she has still been impressed with the squad this fall. âÄúI definitely saw some great things happen. The team is moving in the right direction,âÄù she said. Wessinger said the team will take the off-season to work on strength training as well as fix any kinks in their swings. The womenâÄôs squad now has three months off until they play next. The Alumni Challenge isnâÄôt until the end of January, but Puga already has some goals in mind for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. Despite a 10th-place finish in last yearâÄôs Big Ten Championships, Puga still has hopes that this team can perform among the conferenceâÄôs elite and even reach a higher stage. âÄúI think our goal is to go to nationals,âÄù Puga said. âÄúI think we will be able to make it because we are working very hard. If we keep working this way, we can do it.âÄù