Minnesota Golf Association

Gopher Men Battle Strong Field to Place Fifth at Gopher Invitational

September 10, 2018

By Nick Hunter
  MAPLE PLAIN, Minn. – Led once again by a pair of underclassmen for the second consecutive day, the University of Minnesota men’s golf team posted its lowest round of the tournament Monday to jump four spots for a fifth-place finish at the 2018 Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm.
Monday’s result marked the best finish by the Gophers at their home tournament since the 2014-15 season when they placed fourth before collecting three tournament wins en route to a Big Ten title. Minnesota’s 54-hole team total of 12-over 864 was within striking distance of the University of Arkansas, the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, each ranked inside the top-20 by Golfstat entering the 2018-19 season.
“This is incredibly positive. Coming in off of strong summers in all respects, we expected these guys to play well,” Minnesota Director of Men’s Golf John Carlson said following the final round Monday. “Playing with Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and N.C. State, all [NCAA National Championship] teams, and I felt there’s really no difference in our games.
“We maybe didn’t finish off a round as strong as they did or make a few putts when they did, but going into the rest of the year, there is so much positivity. There is so much talent on this team, but even more than that, guys are really believing that we can go out and get us back to a Big Ten Championship.”
A younger squad than in years past, the Gophers got big contributions from sophomore Evan Long, who despite a triple-bogey on his final hole during Monday’s final round to shoot 1-over par 72, as well as freshman Lincoln Johnson, who fired a 1-under par 70 Monday, getting his first taste of collegiate golf as both finished tied for 11th at 1-over 214.
Although the Gophers own one victory and seven top-10 finishes at the event since 2005, they’ve struggled over the past three seasons, placing no better than ninth.
“We came out strong today—shoot 6-under on the front nine and to get to 7-under for the day and finish with a score under par on a tough course here at Windsong,” Carlson said. “I thought the conditions got more difficult as the week went on and we handled it very well as a team. We have some guys that are very disciplined.
“Evan Long, Noah Rasinski and Lincoln Johnson played outstanding golf this week. They showed us that we’re going to have depth and that we’re going to be able to rely on four or five guys. We’re ready for the next tournament—I feel like this team is ready to compete when we go to the Maui Jim and Erin Hills in the next couple weeks. We’re going to be playing a similar field and strong teams and we feel like we belong.”
Long, a sophomore from New Castle, Pa., carded a round of even par 71 to open the championship early Sunday and answered with a round of 72 to close out the opening day of competition in a tie for 12th.
Getting off to another solid start Monday, Long turned at 1-under for the tournament before a bogey at the 11th put him back to even. But surging late, Long birdied the 16th and 17th holes to move to 2-under for the championship before a disastrous final hole, taking a triple-bogey to finish the day at 1-over par and in a tie for 11th overall.
Despite only a pair of seniors on this year’s team, Carlson and Associate Head Coach Justin Smith emphasized the experience even the incoming freshman bring to the program this season.
Lincoln Johnson wasted little time acclimating his game to the collegiate level this week at Windsong. The former Chaska High School standout and Mr. Golf finalist fired a round of even par when the tournament began early Sunday and backed it up with a round of 73.
Johnson rolled in a pair of birdies against one bogey during his opening nine Monday and played his final nine holes at even par to record his first sub-par round of his career, finishing tied for 11th along with Long at 214.
“It’s been a really good experience being my first college tournament,” Johnson said Monday. “It kind of compares to the state tournament a little bit, but this is a whole new level and last year I was one of the longest guys I played with and here I’m getting outdriven by 40 or 50 yards, so it’s eye-opening and really cool to see how different everyone’s game is.
“I putted really well—I’ve been working on my putting stroke quite a bit and I putted really well. I made a lot of putts. I need to hit the fairway a little bit more, but other than that I was really happy. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game. I’m a freshman, but I can play with these guys. I can play golf and do the things these other players are doing.”
Thomas Longbella, a junior from Chippewa Falls, Wis., opened with a 71 early Sunday before shooting a 4-over 75 during the afternoon session. Longbella put together a strong round during Monday’s final round, carding two birdies over his front nine with a lone bogey during the back to shoot a final-round 70 to finish tied for 18th at 216.
Rasinski, a junior transfer from Concordia University-St. Paul, battled back from an opening-round 77 Sunday by shooting even par during the second round before posting a 1-over par 72 Monday to finish his first tournament as a Division I golfer tied for 38th at 220.
Carding a team score of 278 Monday, Oklahoma (ranked No. 2 by Golfstat) earned a three-stroke victory over Texas. Blaine Hale led the way for the Sooners, carding a final-round 69 in which he birdied five of his final six holes to finish the 54-hole championship with a share of medalist honors with Arkansas’s Wiliam Buhl at 7-under par 206.
The Gopher men travel to Carefree, Ariz., Sept. 21-22 to compete at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate at Mirabel Golf Club.
7,368 YARDS, PAR 71
1. Oklahoma, 284-285- --
2. Texas, 291-278-281—850  
3. Iowa, 288-286-277—851
4. Arkansas, 288-291-280—859
T5. MINNESOTA, 290-291-283—864
T5. Purdue, 282-294-288—864
7. N.C. State, 292-287-286—865
8. Michigan State, 288-288-292—868
9. New Mexico, 296-286-291—873
10. Utah, 293-295-286—874
11. San Diego State, 292-286-297—875
12. Washington, 300-285-292—877
13. Coastal Carolina, 296-299-285—880
14. Charlotte, 307-298-280—885
15. MINNESOTA (B), 296-314-297—907
T1. William Buhl, Arkansas, 69-67-70—206
T1. Blaine Hale, Oklahoma, 68-69-69—206
3. Steven Chervony, Texas, 73-68-67—208
4. Julian Perico, Arkansas, 68-74-67—209
5. Matthew Walker, Iowa, 73-71-66—210  
T6. Alex Schaake, Iowa, 71-69-71—211
T6. Donnie Trosper, MSU, 71-70-70—211
8. Henry Lee, Washington, 70-70-72—212
T9. Riley Casey, Oklahoma, 72-72-69—213
T9. Pierceson Coody, Texas, 72-70-71—213
T11. EVAN LONG, MINNESOTA, 71-72-71—214
T28. PETER JONES, MINNESOTA, 70-76-72—218
T44. GUS MINKIN, MINNESOTA, 70-78-73—221
T52. WILL GREVLOS, MINNESOTA, 74-76-73—223  
64. BEN FRAZZINI, MINNESOTA, 74-77-75—226 (played as individual)
For complete tournament results go to:  http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=16478


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