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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Gophers struggle early, don’t advance past regional

The team finished in seventh needing a top five finish to advance.

When it comes to the postseason, the Gophers have a knack for overachieving. It certainly happened in 2002, when they made a late-round surge to win a surprising national championship. And for many of the past 16 years, in which they usually werenâÄôt picked to make it past the regional, but did nine times. At this yearâÄôs regional, held May 14 through 16 at Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway, N.J., they finished higher than expected but narrowly missed advancing. The top five teams advance from each regional, and the Gophers, despite coming into the tournament as the No. 11 seed out of 14 teams, stayed within a reasonable distance of fifth the entire tournament, eventually finishing seventh, 15 strokes behind fifth-place Wake Forest. Alabama won the regional, and advanced to the championships in Toledo, Ohio, along with Tennessee, Illinois, Virginia and Wake Forest. The NCAA recently changed its tournament system, using twice as many regional tournaments and having half the number of teams advance from each. In the past, fields were closer to 30 teams, but advancing meant cracking the top-10. âÄúRatio-wise, it may be the same number of teams advancing, but it makes a difference,âÄù associate head coach Andrew Tank said. âÄúTo crack a top-five, you need to really not play without any major mistakes.âÄù The major mistakes for the Gophers came in the first round. Exceptionally high winds led to bad scores across the leaderboard, but the Gophers especially struggled, posting a 30-over par to put them in ninth place. They started on the back-nine, and on the 16th hole, three of the five Gophers ended up in a water hazard and finished with double bogeys. When dealing with those kinds of winds, Tank said, golf coaches advise playing more conservative and taking bogeys if necessary. âÄúI think we just made some bad shots and bad mistakes, and the wind just magnifies those errors,âÄù Tank said. âÄúThen, weâÄôre in a position where the next couple rounds we have to play at a really high level and looking back, we only played a decent level. That might have gotten it done, but we just made it really tough on ourselves from the beginning.âÄù The team was coming off another big overachievement in the Big Ten tournament, when they took second place as the No. 10 seed, edging out a top-10 Indiana team. The hero of that tournament was true freshman Derek Chang, who, after some struggles early in the season that kept him from even being seeded in the tournament, finished in a tie for third place. Chang led the Gophers at the regional, too, but it wasnâÄôt nearly as strong of a performance. He finished in a three-way tie for 24th place in what he called a âÄúdisappointingâÄù tournament. âÄúI know I prepared pretty well, but it just didnâÄôt happen, and sometimes thatâÄôs just golf,âÄù Chang said. âÄúI think I got thrown off by the wind and course a little bit to start off and didnâÄôt get the results I wanted the rest of the way, and thatâÄôs kind of what happened with the team, too.âÄù Chang was one of three Gophers golfers (out of five) to be playing in his first NCAA tournament. Many players, including Chang, will spend the summer traveling to high-level amateur tournaments around the country. âÄúI think the future is looking pretty good,âÄù Director of Golf Brad James said. âÄúSome years it just doesnâÄôt work out at the end.âÄù

LaâÄôCassie wins tournament

Former Gophers standout Bronson LaâÄôCassie won his first professional golf event last week, needing a birdie in a playoff to win the Sunset Hills NGA Classic. LaâÄôCassie, who played with the Gophers from 2004-2007 and is the only four-time All-American in program history, is in his first year on the NGA Hooters Tour, a developmental golf circuit. LaâÄôCassie is third on the tourâÄôs money list, joining fellow Gophers alums Justin Smith and Matt Anderson in the top-20. âÄúIt just shows that weâÄôre preparing these kids the right way and getting them ready for the next level,âÄù James said. âÄúA lot of guys have left this program the last five or eight years and have found success at the next level. I think itâÄôs a real good sign.âÄù

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