UMN golf fans hope youth, experience will earn success this coming season

Angus Flanagan and Kate Lillie are among the returning Gophers that are expected to build on strong seasons.

Sophomore Angus Flanagan plays during the Gopher Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.

Courtney Deutz

Sophomore Angus Flanagan plays during the Gopher Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.

Logan Moe

Both of the University’s golf programs will have the benefit of youth and veteran experience on their side during the 2019-20 season.

The women’s team will play their first two tournaments in Minnesota, showcasing the team’s abilities on their home turf. The women first play the Minnesota Invitational at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury on Sept. 9 before traveling to the Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo to play in the Annika Intercollegiate on Sept. 16. Led by juniors Grace Kellar and Kate Lillie, the team heads into the season with the experience they acquired from a year ago.

Kate Lillie in particular showed signs of growth throughout the 2018-2019 season, matching a personal best 71 at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown. She went on to accomplish a career-high tournament finish of 3-over-par 36th place finish. 

Her counterpart Grace Kellar looks to bolster her resume after setting career bests at the Minnesota Invitational last season, going 2-under-par and tying for 3rd place. The performance also won the first Big Ten Golfer of the Week award for the team since 2015.

Men look to build upon returning talent and new faces 

Like the women’s team, the men’s golf team will look to benefit from both experience and new faces in 2019. The men’s team will return every member of their 2019 Big Ten Championship lineup, and hopes to rely on veteran leadership from senior Thomas Longbella and junior Angus Flanagan, all while getting accustomed to performing under new head coach Justin Smith. 

Heading into the 2019 Gopher Invitational on Sept. 8, Flanagan and Longbella will look to continue their model of consistency from last season. In 2018, Longbella tied for second most under par rounds on the team with five and tied for third most top-20 finishes on the team with two. 

Angus Flanagan will be expected to build on his sophomore campaign where he earned PING All-Region and All-Big Ten Second Team honors. He led the team in a multitude of categories, including scoring average (71.67), rounds under par (11), tournaments leading (7), top-10 and top-20 finishes.

Along with strong veteran pillars, the men’s team added Minnesota’s 2019 Mr. Golf, freshman Connor Glynn to the team. Reigning from Waconia High School, Glynn will be expected to be a major contributor early this year and help continue to emphasize a winning mentality for the Gopher men.  

New head coach Justin Smith will look to continue his strong reputation for player development within the Gopher golf program throughout the 2019 season and help eventually push the team back to the NCAA finals where Smith himself competed as a collegian with the Gophers (2000, 2002, 2003), winning back-to-back Big Ten titles in 2002 and 2003.