The Minnesota Golden Gophers head to their eighth NCAA finals appearance in the last 10 years, and their 28th appearance all-time, as they travel to Williamsburg, Va., for the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. The Gophers reached the finals for the second year in a row by defeating Texas A&M in a five-man playoff at the Central Regional. The 30th-seeded Gophers start play on Wednesday at 8:35 a.m., paired with Texas and Wake Forest. Minnesota begins second round play on Thursday at 1:47 p.m., Eastern Time.
The Gophers are led by three-time All-American Bronson La’Cassie. La’Cassie finished tied for sixth at the NCAA Championships last June. Last summer, La’Cassie won the prestigious Western Amateur by defeating Oklahoma State’s Pablo Martin in the final. But the Gophers are far from a one-man show. Minnesota’s other All-American is senior Niall Turner. Turner is second on the team with a 73.1 stroke average and has registered four top-10 finishes this season. Turner has been the Gophers’ most consistent golfer all year and has been ranked as high as 26th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Junior Clayton Rask has fond memories of last season’s postseason. The Elk River, Minn., native played his best golf of his career in May and June last season, finishing fifth at the 2006 Big Ten Championships and tying for 10th at last season’s NCAA Regionals. This is Rask’s time of year with a career stroke average of 73.87 in postseason tournaments. The fourth starter is sophomore Victor Almstrom. This is Almstrom’s second go-round through the postseason events, he played in all three postseason tournaments as a redshirt freshman last season. Rounding out the Maroon and Gold lineup is freshman Ben Pisani. Pisani was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week back on March 2 and tied for 21st with Almstrom at this year’s Big Ten Championships.
Minnesota finished tied for third at last season’s NCAA Championships, the program’s second top-three finish in last five years. The Gophers, NCAA champs in 2002, are one of just five schools joining Oklahoma State, UCLA, Georgia Tech and Clemson to claim two top-three finishes in that span. Minnesota ranks seventh nationally and first among Northern schools with eight NCAA Finals appearances since 1998.