tClick Here For Golden Gopher Men's Golf Notes
The two-time defending Big Ten champion Minnesota Golden Gophers look to make it three straight in Ann Arbor, Mich. Last season, Minnesota came back from six strokes down on the final day in Bloomington, Ind. to take the title. The Gophers are ranked 10th in the GCAA/Precept Coaches Poll and 12th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
Leading the way for the Maroon and Gold is two-time All-American Justin Smith. The senior has established himself as one of the top collegiate golfers in the country this season and has always played big in the biggest of tournaments. Smith was a preseason All-American selection by Golfweek and First Team All-Big Ten selection last season leads the team with a 72.23 stroke average. He has won two tournaments this season and has six top-10 finishes.
Smith's heir apparent atop the Gopher lineup is freshman Bronson La'Cassie. La'Cassie has tore up the Spring season and is the odds on favorite for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The Australian native has improved his finish in each tournament this Spring from a tie for 41st at the Puerto Rico Classic to second last week at the Fossum Invitational. He is just behind Smith in stroke average at 72.30 and actually ranks one spot ahead of Smith (38 to Smith's 39) in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings.
Rounding out the Gopher lineup is senior David Morgan, junior Ben Greve and sophomore Ryan Paulson. Morgan has played in all the big events in his career and knows what to expect in May and June. He has recorded top-20 finishes in two of the last three tournaments, a tie for eighth at The Intercollegiate and a tie for 15th at the Fossum. Greve has solidified the Minnesota lineup all season. He has played in seven events this season including the last five. Greve is third on the team in stroke average at 73.33 and has the ability to shoot low scores. His 68 last week at the Fossum tied Smith for the best round of the Spring for the Gophers. Paulson just returned from a painful shoulder injury suffered while swimming in Puerto Rico. The sophomore from Minneapolis was forced to miss four events, but came back just last week. Before the injury, Paulson was the Gophers most consistent player behind Smith with two second place finishes in the fall.