The University of Minnesota men's golf team stands in sixth place after two rounds of the Big Ten Championships in Lake Forest, Ill. The Gophers shot rounds of 288 and 294 for a two-round total of 14-over 582, 14 shots behind tournament leader Northwestern.
"We struggled today," head coach Brad James said. "We left a lot of shots out there and we missed a ton of putts. The course definitely played more difficult in the afternoon, but we had some opportunities that we just didn't capitalize on. The good thing is we're only half way home and we know we can play a lot better. I was happy with the way we battled today, but we need to play better tomorrow to make a run at Northwestern."
The Gophers and Wildcats played together all day on Friday and it was the Wildcats who continually made the big putts for birdie and the critical up and downs for par necessary to win a Big Ten title. The top Gopher through two rounds is two-time All-American Bronson La'Cassie. La'Cassie is tied for 10th at 1- over 143 after rounds of 72-71. La'Cassie's second round typified the day for the Maroon and Gold. The junior from Brisbane, Queensland, recorded six birdies, six pars and six bogeys, a round definitely stuck in neutral.
Senior Josh Persons grinded his way into the top 20 at 4-over 146. After an even par 71 in round one, Persons struggled on the homeward nine in the late afternoon with four bogeys and only one birdie. He shot 75 in the falling temperatures of the evening at the Tom Fazio-designed Conway Farms Golf Club. Persons is tied with teammate Clayton Rask. Rask, playing in his first Big Ten Championships, was steady all day with rounds of 72-75, but could not get many birdie putts to drop in either round Friday.
Junior Niall Turner couldn't get either one of his rounds going struggling on the front nine of each round. Turner was 5-over on the front half and only 1-over on the back and is tied for 23rd at 148 (73-75). Freshman Victor Almstrom rebounded after a first round 80 with a second round 74 and is tied for 44th at 154.
The third round is tomorrow at the par 71, 7,168-yard Conway Farms Golf Club. Minnesota will be paired with Indiana and Illinois and will go off the first tee at 9 a.m. Central Time.