2010 indiana Invitational: After two weeks away from the course, the Gophers will get back at it as part of the field at the 2010 Indiana Invitational April 19-20 at Crooked Stick Golf Club outside of Indianapolis, Ind. The Pete and Alice Dye designed course will play 7,159 from the Championship tees and is scored as a par-72. For many years it has been noted as one of the top 100 courses in the U.S. by Golfweek and Golf Magazine. The teams will play 36 holes on April 19 and finish with 18 on April 20.
Crooked Stick has been the site of many championships including the 1982 USGA Junior Championship, the 1983 USGA Senior Championship, the 1989 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship, the 1991 PGA Championship, the 1993 U.S. Women's Open, the 2005 Solheim Cup, the 107th USGA Women's Amateur Championship (2007) and most recently the 2009 U.S. Senior Open.
The Field (alphabetical order with Golfweek rankings): Ball State (150), Butler (249), Illinois (12), Indiana (68), IUPUI (287), Middle Tennessee State (39), Minnesota (99), Purdue (81), Southern Illinois (216), Wichita State (59), Wisconsin (140), Xavier (131).
The Gophers' Lineup: Senior Ben Pisani, junior Cameron White, sophomore Derek Chang, redshirt freshman Robert Bell and true freshman Shang Zhi.
Saving his Best for Last: Senior Ben Pisani has improved every season since he first arrived at Minnesota from Australia. As a freshman in 2006-07, Pisani played in 11 tournaments including the Big Ten Championships, the NCAA Central Regional and the NCAA Championships. He finished the season with a 76.17 stroke average. As a sophomore (2007-08) his average increased by almost a stroke but the real transformation came last year as a junior. He led the team to a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships as well as an appearance in the NCAA Regionals with a then career-low average of 73.27.
This season, Pisani has paced the Gophers with a career-best 71.53 stroke average after nine tournaments and has posted five top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the 2009 Gopher Invitational. If his season average holds up, Pisani will hold the program's third-finest season, according to the stats. Former Gopher All-American and NCAA Champion James McLean holds the top two spots in single season stroke average after finishing with averages of 70.89 and 71.39 in 1999 and 1998, respectively. His current career average of 74.45 falls just outside of the program's top-10.
Team of the Decade: The Minnesota Golden Gopher golf program was the clear top Big Ten men's golf program of the decade during the 2000s. The Gophers average finish at the Big Ten Championships was 2.5, easily the best in the conference and they finished in the top half every year including nine top four finishes, three titles and three runner-ups. The next best was Northwestern with an average of 4.2, followed by Purdue (4.4) and Ohio State (4.7).
The conference championships accomplishments were in addition to a huge decade on the national scene. In 2002, the Gophers won their first national championship, becoming the first northern school since 1972 to do so. They made six NCAA Finals appearances in the decade, the most among Big Ten schools, including top ten finishes in 2006 (T-3rd) and 2007 (9th). Purdue and Northwestern were a distant second with four NCAA Finals berths in the decade. Only Michigan, Purdue and Northwestern managed top 10 NCAA finishes during the 2000s. The Gophers also led the Big Ten with nine NCAA Regionals berths in the decade as well. The Gophers picked up 15 All-America awards during the decade, highlighted by Bronson La'Cassie becoming the first four-time All-American in school history (2004-07).
Up Next: The Gophers will have a week off before hosting the 2010 Big Ten Championships at Windsong Farm Golf Club on April 30-May 2. The Gophers have finished second the past two seasons. Illinois is the defending champion.