Big Ten Men’s Golf Championships
Conway Farms Golf Club
Lake Forest, Ill.
Conway Farms: Par 71, 7,168 yards
Friday: 1st Rnd 8 a.m. (split tees/twosomes)
Friday: 2nd Rnd - 12:15 p.m. (split tees/twosomes)
Saturday: 3rd Rnd - 9 a.m. (split tees/threesomes)
Sunday: 4th Rnd - 8 a.m. (split tees/threesomes)
The 21st-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to Lake Forest, Ill., for the Big Ten Championships at Conway Farms Golf Club, the site of the 1997 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. The Gophers, who are ranked 21st in the Bridgestone/Golf Coaches Association poll and 33rd by Golfweek, hope to win their third title in five years this weekend. The Maroon and Gold have had a balanced attack all season led by senior Josh Persons and juniors Niall Turner and two-time All-American Bronson La’Cassie. La’Cassie led the way last weekend at the Fossum Invitational matching his career-best finish tying for second with Northwestern’s Chris Wilson. Turner has won the only individual title by a Gopher this season, at last fall’s Gopher Invitational, and Persons has been Minnesota’s most consistent golfer all spring earning Co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors for his play at the Augusta State Invitational. Persons shared that honor with teammate Victor Almstrom. Almstrom has become a factor in the Gopher lineup in his redshirt freshman season. Almstrom has played in every event this spring recording two top-10 finishes. Rounding out the lineup is redshirt sophomore Clayton Rask. Rask has played in five events, including the last two, after redshirting last season.
The Gophers have competed in one other event at Conway Farms in the 2004 Windon Memorial Classic. Minnesota took fifth with a team score of 873, eight shots behind tournament titleist Northwestern. Persons has good memories of Conway finishing in a tie for second at 1-over 217 at the Windon after a second round 68. La’Cassie tied for 14th in the event and Turner carded a final round 69 after struggling the first two days.
In addition, Midwest District rankings are at stake this weekend with Northwestern and the Gophers holding the No. 2 and 3 positions, respectively, behind Kentucky. Kent State is fourth followed by Purdue and Xavier rounding out the six allocated teams from the Midwest. Illinois and Indiana are tied for the eighth spot and are looking to climb into the top six this weekend.
Big Ten Tournament History
The Golden Gophers have won six Big Ten team titles (1929, 1938, 1963, 1972, & 2002, 2003). After a 30-year drought, Minnesota won two straight in 2002 and 2003. Last season, the Gophers shot rounds of 285-283-286 (-10) finishing fourth, seven shots behind tournament champ Indiana.
In 2003, the Gophers earned their first back-to-back Big Ten Championships in school history, winning the 2003 tournament with a final round of 7-under-par 277 for a 72-hole total of 1122 (-14). The Golden Gophers overcame a six-stroke deficit heading into the final day to win the event by six with Illinois finishing at 8-under 1128. Senior Matt Anderson became the fifth Gopher to win a Big Ten individual title in 2003. Anderson fired a 67 in the final round to place first with a total of 276 (-8). His four-round score tied the second lowest 72-hole total in Minnesota history. The Golden Gophers had not taken both the team and individual crowns since 1972.
Minnesota Individual Big Ten Medalists -- Les Bolstad in 1929; Bill Brask in 1968; Dave Haberle in 1971 and John Harris in 1974; Matt Anderson, 2003.