University of Minnesota senior Clayton Rask and junior Victor Almstrom saved the best for last in the final round of the 2008 NCAA Central Regional golf tournament. Rask fired a 2-over 73, his lowest of the tournament and Almstrom carded a 3-over 74, his lowest of the tournament, but it wasn’t enough to move on to the NCAA Championships. Rask, who as it turns out was playing in his final collegiate tournament, and Almstrom finished tied for 20th (+11 224) and tied for 41st (+13 226), respectively.
The top two individuals not affiliated with the top 10 qualifying teams moved on to the championships. University of Colorado’s Derek Tolan (+5 218) and Texas Christian University’s James Sacheck garnered those honors. Sacheck defeated Tennessee’s Charles Ford in a two-hole playoff to qualify for the second individual position. Kevin Tway of Oklahoma State won medallist honors with a 54-hole total of +1 214.
Wake Forest University won the central regional team title by 10 strokes over Oklahoma State University. The University of Illinois finished third, two strokes behind OSU. Big Ten Conference members Penn State and Indiana join the Illini as three of the 10 schools to qualify for the championships.
Rask’s day consisted of 10 pars, three birdies and five bogeys. He played the front nine, his second nine of the day, at even par, including a seven-hole stretch (holes 2-8) at 3-under. Almstrom played consistently all day with a round that included 13 pars, one birdie and four bogeys.
Rask’s senior season was productive, as the Elk River graduate led the Gophers in the fall and spring seasons in stroke average at 71.33 and 74, respectively. He compiled seven top 20 finishes this season, six of which were also top-10 finishes. He finished tied for first in back-to-back tournaments, the Windon Memorial and the Prestige at PGA West. In the Windon Memorial, he carded a 7-under 206, the lowest 54-hole score of his career. Rask also garnered his First Team All-Big Ten honors.
A native of Vallingby, Sweden, Almstrom also earned his first All-Big Ten First Team honor after finishing in a tie for fifth with a 5-over 293 at the conference championships. An Honorable Mention All-American in 2007, he garnered three top-10 finishes this season, including a tie for second place at the Ping/Golfweek Preview. He scored a 5-under 211 in the tournament for his lowest 54-hole round of the season. Also, he tied his career-low score of 67 in the Windon Memorial for one of his three aforementioned top-10 finishes.