The University of Minnesota men's golf team saved its best round for the final day of the NCAA Championships at the Crosswater Club in Sunriver, Ore., firing a 6-under-par 282 to finish in a tie for third place. The Gophers, who finished with a 5-under score of 1147, ended up just four shots behind Oklahoma State, who claimed the title at 9-under 1143. Florida placed second, just a shot ahead of the Maroon and Gold at 6-under 1146 while Wake Forest finished tied with the Gophers for third at 5-under 1147. The Gophers' third place finish is the third-best in school history.
Junior Bronson La'Cassie fired a final round 4-under-par 68, his best round of the championships, with a sixth place individual finish. Junior Niall Turner also finished in a tie for 10th overall after an even-par final round of 72.
"What an awesome day," head coach Brad James said after the final round. "Our kids had a chance on the back nine to win our second national championship in five years. As a coach, that's all you can ask for. We came close and nearly took it. To finish third at the national championship on a course like this is phenomenal."
Minnesota's only better team showing came in 2002 when the Gophers rallied to win the NCAA title and in 1944 when they placed second when the tournament was in just a 36-hole format. Minnesota's 6-under-par round on Saturday was the second-best in the field in the final round behind a 9-under-par round by Florida.
La'Cassie carded an eagle and four birdies en route to a 4-under-par 68 on the final day. He finished in a tie for sixth place which ranks as the fifth-best individual finish by a Gopher at the NCAA Championships and the best since Justin Smith tied for fourth during the Gophers' national title run in 2002. His 72-hole total of 284 is the third-best ever recorded by a Gopher at the NCAAs.
La'Cassie holed a 5-iron on the par-4 14th hole from 197 yards away for eagle and gave the Gophers a huge momentum boost that spread to his teammates. Senior Josh Persons birdied the 16th hole and then chipped in on 18 for a birdie to finish with a 3-under-par 69. La'Cassie also finished with a birdie on 18 while Turner birdied 16 in the Gophers' late surge.
Turner, who fired a three-under-par 69 on Friday, ended with an even-par round of 72. He completed the tournament in a tie for 10th place at 2-under par to become just the eighth Gopher to place in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships.
Persons provided a clutch three-under-par 69 in his final round as a Gopher to push Minnesota into the top five team battle. Persons finished the round with five birdies. He also finished in a tie for 20th overall with a 72-hole final score of 288 (even-par).
Sophomore Clayton Rask overcame a triple-bogey on the fourth hole with four birdies the rest of the way and ended with a two-over par 74. He finished in a tie for 50th place with a 72-hole total of 295.
Freshman Victor Almstrom posted his best round of the Championships with a 1-over-par 73 on Saturday to finish in a tie for 70th place at +11 overall (299).
Minnesota is one of just five programs to have two top three finishes at the NCAA Championships in the last five years. The Gophers are joined by Oklahoma State, UCLA, Georgia Tech and Clemson. Of that group, only the Gophers, Oklahoma State and Clemson have an NCAA title during that span. Minnesota has made 27 appearances in the NCAA Championships including seven of the last nine years.
1 Oklahoma State 281-291-288-283=1143 (-9)
2 Florida 284-285-298-279=1146 (-6)
T3 Minnesota 287-286-292-282=1147 (-5)
T3 Wake Forest 277-289-294-287=1147 (-5)
5 Kentucky, U. of 283-287-300-283=1153 (+1)
6 Georgia 293-286-290-287=1156 (+4)
T7 Clemson 282-288-296-291=1157 (+5)
T7 UCLA 280-294-296-287=1157 (+5)
T9 Lamar University 292-283-290-293=1158 (+6)
T9 Washington 281-282-294-301=1158 (+6)
11 Arizona State U. 287-279-294-299=1159 (+7)
12 Duke University 290-297-284-291=1162 (+10)
13 Arizona 296-283-291-298=1168 (+16)
14 Texas A&M University 291-283-296-299=1169 (+17)
15 Brigham Young Univ. 292-298-284-298=1172 ( +20)*
*advanced in playoff over Coastal Carolina ,
T15 Coastal Carolina 296-287-291=874 (+10)
17 North Carolina 297-289-290=876 (+12)
18 North Carolina State 284-295 -298=877 (+13)
T19 UNLV 293-290-297=880 (+16)
T19 Auburn 295-293-292=880 ( +16)
21 East Tennessee St. 286-301-298=885 (+21)
T22 Pepperdine 296-294-296=886 (+22)
T22 South Carolina 292-296-298=886 (+22)
T22 Charlotte 288-299-299=886 (+22)
25 Northwestern 292-295-302=889 (+25)
26 Georgia Tech 301-294-296=891 (+27)
27 Texas Tech 297-290-305=892 ( +28)
28 Nevada, Univ. of 296-294-307=897 (+33)
29 Oklahoma, U. of 284-306 -313=903 (+39)
T6 Bronson La'Cassie 70-71-75-68=284 (-4)
T10 Niall Turner 71-74-69-72=286 (-2)
T20 Josh Persons 73-74-72-69=288 (E)
T50 Clayton Rask 78-69-74-72=295 (+7)
T70 Victor Almstrom 73-76-77-73=299 (+11)