Gophers struggle with short game in Tampa

The women’s golf team finished 10th out of 12 teams at the invitational.

Nickalas Tabbert

The Gophers women’s golf team shot 57-over par to finish 10th out of 12 teams at the Central District Invitational in Tampa, Fla.

Southern Methodist won the 54-hole tournament at 24-over par.

Gophers coach Michele Redman said her team struggled with its short game at the River Wilderness Golf Club.

“We’re still a little rusty,” she said. “We need to keep continually getting better with chipping and putting.”

The team’s performance was similar to the Hurricane Invitational two weeks ago, Redman said. Minnesota finished with the same team score at that tournament en route to a sixth-place finish.

Cooler weather and wind factored into the team’s scores this week, Redman said. Teams had to wait out a frost delay Monday.

“That to me was the main reason as to why the scores are not as low as they were last year,” she said.

Minnesota finished 12th last year but shot five strokes better.

Redman said the course wasn’t as firm or fast as last year either, which led to Minnesota using different clubs on shots onto the green.

Minnesota had three golfers separated by two strokes. Sophomore Carmen Laguna finished tied for 25th to lead the team. Senior Jackie Shepherd finished one shot behind Laguna, and sophomore Anna Laorr finished one behind Shepherd.

Redman said Laguna’s new putting stroke will have long-term benefits.

“Right now she’s just not making the putts at the right time,” Redman said. “She’s hitting a lot of good putts — they’re just not going in the hole.”

Laguna, the team’s best golfer so far this season, is on the verge of consistently shooting par. Redman said Laguna needs to make a few more birdies to help make that happen.

Shepherd had her best tournament of the season this week. She shot 1-over par Tuesday to finish the tournament 13-over par.

Laorr improved her score and finish from the Hurricane Invitational two weeks ago. She shot a 76 twice to lead the team through two rounds. Laorr kept Minnesota’s cleanest scorecard, recording only birdies, pars and bogeys in her rounds.

The Gophers competed without junior Banchalee Theinthong, who suffered a wrist injury, Redman said. Theinthong had the Gophers’ best performance in the Hurricane Invitational.

Redman said she expects Theinthong to be back in the lineup by March 8, when Minnesota will compete in the Clover Cup in Phoenix.