Minnesota Golf Association

Gopher Men Place 10th in Smith's Debut as Head Coach at Gopher Invite

September 9, 2019

By Nick Hunter
  MAPLE PLAIN, Minn. – Beginning the 2019-2020 season under new head coach Justin Smith, upperclassmen Angus Flanagan and Noah Rasinski led the University of Minnesota men’s golf team to a 10th-place finish at the 2019 Gopher Invitational Monday at Windsong Farm.
Following five seasons on the Gophers’ coaching staff, Smith took over the reigns as head coach following John Carlson’s departure in July after nine years with the program. Getting off to a slow start during the opening round Sunday, the Gophers climbed three spots on the leaderboard late Sunday, but failed to make up any ground on the field during the final round Monday in wet and cold conditions.
After placing fifth at the event last season, Smith sees plenty of positives in his young Gopher squad despite a sluggish start to the 2019-20 campaign this week at Windsong.
“I think this is probably our deepest squad we’ve had in a long time. What I do know is this team is going to be very competitive and it’s going to be very hard to make our top-5. It’ll be fun to watch and see them get better,” Smith said Monday. “They’re extremely passionate and determined—I never have to worry about effort and never have to worry about passion. It’s our job to put the right kind of surroundings around them and give them the right resources to free them up and go play.
“This is probably the strongest field we’ve had, there’s no question about that. Every team on that leaderboard is a postseason-type team. For us, it’s a great opportunity to see what we’ve got and see where we are at this point of the season and see if we can knock off a couple of those teams.”
Flanagan led the Gophers in five categories during the 2018-19 season, and with his round of 65 during the second round Sunday, tied his career-low, becoming only the fourth player in program history to record multiple rounds of 65.
From Woking, England, the defending Big Ten individual champion Flanagan began his final round on the 10th tee Monday and rolled in a birdie at the par-4 13th, but would record four bogeys during his final seven holes to slip two spots on the leaderboard, finishing tied for 21st at 4-over 217.
“Obviously 7-over the first day wasn’t great, but didn’t play that bad. Two bad golf shots really cost me. One high number and couldn’t get the pace of the greens. I put it behind me on the 19th tee and then found something and before I knew it, made six [birdies] in a row on the back nine,” Flanagan said of his start to the championship Sunday.
“My best round here is 5-under in practice and qualifying, so it was nice to get over the hurdle of birdying 16 to get to 6-under. Today I tried to continue what I was doing, really. I played really good on the front—my worst put was 20 feet and I hit the first 11 greens.”
During his sophomore season, Flanagan earned PING All-Region and All-Big Ten Second Team honors by leading the Gophers in scoring average (71.67), rounds under par (11), tournaments leading the team (7), top-10 finishes (3) and top-20 finishes.
Aside from Smith, who made the clinching putt to win the 2002 national championship for the Gophers, Minnesota welcomed another former Gopher to the coaching staff in August, naming Matt Rachey assistant coach.  
“We’re looking forward to having [Matt Rachey] aboard and [Smith] calling the shots, which will be nice,” Flanagan added. “We’re all happy about that and it’s nice to have 10 guys that are all striving for the same goal and have all got the same aspirations of turning pro or doing well in amateur golf.
“It should be a good year. Obviously ashamed about this finish, but it’s always a tough one with some of the best teams in the country coming here and the weather wasn’t the best. It was a tough couple of days.”
Rasinski, a senior from Lakeville, Minn., posted a 2-under 69 to begin the championship Sunday, but was unable to gain any momentum in the difficult conditions, carding rounds of 74 and 75, respectively, to finish tied for 24th at 5-over 218.
Connor Glynn, who made his collegiate debut this week for the Gophers playing as an individual, posted three solid rounds during his first event for Minnesota to finish tied with Rasinski at 218.
Harrison Arnold, a freshman from Ascot, England fired a final-round 74 to finish tied for 36th at 220, while senior Thomas Longbella carded a 54-hole total of 223 to place 50th.
“I was really impressed with our freshman [Connor Glynn and Harrison Arnold] and what they did and how they held it together,” Smith said. “It was a big-time moment, big-time tournament and big-time golf course, and they did an awesome job and I can’t wait to see them compete again pretty soon.
“There’s no question that first round that we were tight. Some of the players played pretty uncharacteristically. We’ll take a deep dive into what was going on this week and build and plan and get ready to go pretty quick. We have a team that can strike the ball pretty darn good, but we need to clean up some things around the green. We’re letting too many go and when you’re playing a field like this, there isn’t any room for error.”
University of Arkansas senior and defending champion William Buhl began the championship Sunday with a round of 68 before jumping to the top of the leaderboard following the second round late Sunday, carrying a one-stroke advantage to Monday’s final round.
Carding a pair of birdies to begin his round Monday, Buhl took a triple-bogey at the par-4 third and would manage to turn in 1-over par. Following a bogey at the 10th hole, Buhl rolled in a birdie putt at the par-4 15th and would hang on to earn a one-stroke victory for his second career victory as the second player to successfully repeat at the Gopher Invitational.
Baylor University earned a two-stroke victory over Texas A&M in the team competition, posting a 4-under 848 to claim its first win at the event.
The Gopher men travel to the desert to compete in the Maui Jim Intercollegiate beginning Friday at Mirabel Golf Club in Carefree, Ariz.
7,368 YARDS, PAR 71
1. Baylor, 281-279-288—848
2. Texas A&M, 276-287-287—850
T3. Arkansas, 290-276-288—854
T3. Oklahoma, 285-286-283—854
5. West Virginia, 286-280-292—858
6. Marquette, 286-282-298—866
7. Purdue, 290-281-297—868
8. Kent State, 293-284-293—870
9. Utah, 293-281-297—871
10. MINNESOTA, 298-282-297—877
11. NC State, 295-291-294—880
T12. Michigan State, 290-291-300—881
T12. Iowa, 291-301-289—881
1. William Buhl, Arkansas, 68-67-72—207
2. Dan Erickson, Texas A&M, 67-74-67—208  
T3. Joe Weiler, Purdue, 71-68-71—210
T3. Johnny Keefer, Baylor, 69-67-74—210
5. Cooper Dossey, Baylor, 67-74-70—211
T6. Thomas Johnson, Oklahoma, 74-71-67—212
T6. William Paysse, Texas A&M, 68-71-73—212
T8. Alex Schaake, Iowa, 72-72-69—213  
T8. Garett Reband, Oklahoma, 73-70-70—213
T8. Hunter Eichhorn, Marquette, 72-71-70—213
T24. CONNOR GLYNN, MINNESOTA, 73-70-75—218 (playing as individual)
T36. HARRISON ARNOLD, MINNESOTA, 74-72-74—220 (playing as individual)  
T54. EVAN LONG, MINNESOTA, 76-76-72—224
T54. GUS MINKIN, MINNESOTA, 72-78-74—224 (playing as individual)
61. WILL GREVLOS, MINNESOTA, 77-76-73—226 (playing as individual)
T67. HARRY PLOWMAN-OLLINGTON, MINNESOTA, 77-76-76—229 (playing as individual)
For complete tournament results go to:  http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=18315


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