Gophers struggle in Georgia

Minnesota finished in last place at the Augusta State Invitational.

Brian Deutsch

History repeated itself this weekend at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational as Coastal Carolina was able to come from behind Sunday to win its second straight team title in Georgia.

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On a darker note, the Minnesota men’s golf team repeated a feat of its own – finishing last in its second straight tournament.

The Gophers fired a 23-over 887 to finish in 18th place, 34 strokes behind tournament champion Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers were able to win their second consecutive Invite thanks largely to the performance of individual champion senior Dustin Johnson.

Consistency was the name of the game for Johnson, who posted four-under 68s in all three rounds – enough to win the tournament by six strokes with a 12-under 204.

The senior’s consistency helped Coastal Carolina rebound after falling behind North Carolina by as many as 15 strokes in the final round.

Though the Tar Heels led the tournament consistently until day three, a final round 6-over 294 – the day’s worst score behind only South Carolina-Aiken and Minnesota – allowed the Chanticleers to sneak into a first-place finish by just one stroke.

Though the competition and the course challenged Minnesota, senior Niall Turner said the team only had itself to blame for the lackluster showing.

“The course was pretty fair, it’s not tougher than any other course we’ve played in previous tournaments, and the competition wasn’t that great, we’ve played in fields a lot better this year,” Turner said. “We really have no excuses at all.”

Turner led the Gophers with a 2-under 214 to finish in a tie for eighth place.

In his third top-10 finish of the year, Turner was Minnesota’s only competitor to finish below par.

Senior Bronson La’Cassie and sophomore Victor Almstrom finished seven strokes behind Turner in a nine-way tie for 49th place.

La’Cassie said after the tournament that he hasn’t lived up to his own standards nearly all year, but things can be easily remedied.

“My game hasn’t been good for a while now, so I just need to work it out,” he said. “In golf, luck can change from one day to the next.”

La’Cassie’s words were proven true in the case of Almstrom, who was in 12th place after day two, but a five-over 77 in the final round – one of the highest scores recorded Sunday – dropped him back 37 spots.

Though the team had one strong performance and two mediocre showings, Minnesota’s final two scores completely knocked them out of contention.

Freshman Ben Pisani fired a 19-over 335 finishing in 87th place, one position in front of sophomore Andy Paulson.

After Pisani and Paulson’s poor showings this weekend, the Big Ten roster will likely be readjusted, according to coach Brad James.

La’Cassie, Turner and Almstrom have all but cemented their slots in the lineup while junior Clayton Rask is now James’ pick for the fourth man on the conference roster.

The fight for fifth is still wide open with Pisani and Paulson being the odds on favorites.

But with nearly a month before the conference championships, there is plenty of time for things to change.

“When you finish last, it’s definitely time to look at what you are doing,” James said. “There is definitely some work to be done in the next three weeks before the Big Tens.”