Following a match at Houston last weekend, the Minnesota men’s golf team returns to the course this weekend as it travels to Opelika, Ala., for the Tiger Invitational, March 4-6. The Gophers will tee off at 7:40 a.m. CT on Sunday to begin the weekend.
This will be the third consecutive year that the Gophers have competed in the Tiger Invitational. Last year, they placed 11th of 19 teams.
As the first stroke play tournament of the spring, the Gophers have been preparing for this weekend for months. Associate Coach Justin Smith expects the team to be ready.
“Everything we’ve done so far has been in preparation for this type of course and these conditions,” he said. “With Big Ten Match Play, we had great competition and a lot of guys had a chance to play. Last weekend in Houston gave us great preparation in terms of different weather conditions. Going into this, there’s nothing that we’re not going to be able to handle.”
As for the results of the weekend, Coach Smith hopes to see the team put it all together.
“We’re looking for consistency,” he explained. “Our student-athletes have the ability to play at an extremely high level, and they’ve shown all those signs so far this spring. Now, it’s about doing it three rounds in a row, 18 holes a day.”
The field: Minnesota will face host-Auburn, Missouri, Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, Kansas State, Maryland, Kennesaw State, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, UNC-Greensboro, Troy, South Alabama, Georgia State, James Madison, Chattanooga and Samford. Auburn (6) and Missouri (21) are both ranked in Golfweek’s Top 50.
“Auburn is as good as anyone we’ve seen so far,” Smith said. “But that’s what we want to go up against -- it’s what we schedule for, it’s what we recruit to. We have a great opportunity to go down there, beat a lot of teams and get ourselves in contention to play. Hopefully we can get in that final group with Auburn on Tuesday, and see where we stack up.”
The course: The Grand National Lake Course plays at par 72 and is 7,149 yards.
The travel squad: Angus Flanagan, Thomas Longbella, Riley Johnson, Rúnar Arnórsson and Charlie Duensing will represent the Gophers at the tournament. All five made the trip to Houston last weekend for the head-to-head match with the Cougars.
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