Gopher Invitational to Kick Off Fall Season
Sept. 2, 2014
Gopher Invitational Information
When: Sunday, Sept. 7-Monday, Sept. 8 - tee times starting at 7:30 a.m. both days
Where: Windsong Farm Golf Club - Independence, Minn.
About the Course: Par 71 - 7,152 yards
The Field: Fourteen teams, including seven that qualified for the NCAA Regionals last season
Live Scoring: BirdieFire.com
Round 1 Tee Times: Click here
The 2014 Big Ten champion Minnesota golf team begins a new season by hosting the Gopher Invitational. This is the 10th playing of the tournament, and the second at beautiful Windsong Farm Golf Club.
Last season saw Minnesota win four tournaments, including its first conference title since 2007. Before the first of their four victories, the Golden Gophers had last won as a team during the 2006-07 season. John Carlson was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Minnesota went on to play at the NCAA Raleigh Regional after winning the Big Ten Championships.
Jose Mendez, then a freshman, was a big part of Minnesota's success. After becoming the Gophers' first individual Big Ten champion since 2003, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, an All-Big Ten First Team and PING All-Region selection and a Freshman All-American. Mendez won three tournaments and led the team with a 71.97 stroke average.
Jon Trasamar (tied for third at the Big Ten Championships) and Alex Gaugert (tied for 20th) have graduated, but Tyler Lowenstein, Jon DuToit, Matt Rachey and Grady Meyer all return with tournament experience. DuToit tied for 12th at the Big Ten Championships and returns as a junior this fall. Lowenstein, who played in the conference tournament, is the Gophers' lone senior.
In addition to Mendez, the Gophers return another three sophomores. Rachey was part of the starting lineup for much of his freshman year, while Meyer made his first appearance with the team at the NCAA Regional. Daniel Luftspring rounds out the returning class.
The Gophers welcome four newcomers in 2014-15. They have added another sophomore in William Leaf, who transferred from SIU-Edwardsville. Freshmen Rúnar Arnórsson, Charlie Duensing and Riley Johnson also join the team this fall.
Gopher Invitational Team Capsules
Baylor: Second consecutive appearance in the Gopher Invitational...finished second in 2013...finished sixth at the 2014 Big 12 Championships...10th at the NCAA Eugene Regional ...finished in the top five of nine tournaments, including a win at the UTSA Oak Hills Invitational.
Top returning player: Kyle Jones (senior)...honorable mention Golfweek All-American...71.40 stroke average...seven top-10 finishes, including a win at the Oak Hills Invitational...17th at the Big 12 Championship.
California: Appearing in the Gopher Invite for the third straight year...finished fourth last year and won in 2012...fourth at the Pac-12 Championship...tied for 11th at the NCAA Championships...was fifth consecutive NCAA Championships appearance...won six tournaments, and finished in the top five of six others.
Top returning player: Shotaro Ban (junior)...tied for 16th at the Pac-12 Championship...tied for 20th at the NCAA Sugar Grove Regional and competed at the NCAA Championships...72.89 average.
Central Arkansas: Second appearance...finished ninth in 2013... tied for third at the Southland Conference Championship...won one tournament and finished in the top five of two others.
Top returning player: Pep Angles (senior)...tied for 23rd at the NCAA Columbia Regional...Southland Player of the Year and conference tournament runner-up...two wins and eight top-10s...71.19 average...helped Europe win the Palmer Cup.
Charlotte: Playing in its fifth Gopher Invite...finished fourth in 2009, and most recently appeared in 2012...finished fourth at the Conference USA Championships...recorded two top-five finishes.
Top returning players: Raoul Menard (senior)...73.47 stroke average...three top-10 finishes, including a tie for sixth at the C-USA Championship...Thomas Rowland (junior)...one win and three top-10s...73.63 average.
Kent State: Fifth consecutive appearance...best finish was second in 2010, and the Golden Flashes finished third in 2013...Mid-American Conference champions...seventh at the NCAA Spring Grove Regional...finished in the top five of seven tournaments.
Top returning player: Josh Whalen (sophomore)...tied for 17th at MAC Championship...tied for 31st at NCAA Sugar Grove Regional...75.40 scoring average...tied for 19th at 2013 Gopher Invite.
Michigan State: Making its fourth trip to the Gopher Invitational...top finish was fourth in 2006, and the Spartans finished 10th last year...seventh at the Big Ten Championships...recorded three top-five finishes, including a win at the Wolverine Intercollegiate.
Top returning player: Mitch Rutledge (junior)...tied for seventh at the Big Ten Championships...led the team with a 74.62 scoring average, three top-10 finishes and five top-20 finishes.
Nebraska: Making its first appearance at the Gopher Invite...11th at the Big Ten Championships...finished second at the Oak Hill Intercollegiate.
Top returning players: Ross Dickson (senior)...competed in every tournament last season with a 74.56 stroke average...Calvin Freeman (senior)...74.90 scoring average.
New Mexico: The 2013 Gopher Invite champions return for their third year...Mountain West champions...finished sixth at the NCAA Auburn Regional...won four tournaments and finished in the top five of four others.
Top returning players: Gavin Green (senior)...finished season with No. 23 ranking from Golfstat and No. 31 from Golfweek...second-team All-American...Mountain West champion...won four tournaments on the season...72.28 scoring average...third at 2013 Gopher Invite...Victor Perez (senior)...fifth at the Mountain West Championship.
Notre Dame: Playing in the Gopher Invite for the seventh time...finished third in both 2007 and 2011, and seventh last year...seventh at the ACC Championship...won the Oak Hill Intercollegiate and had two other top-five finishes.
Top returning players: Patrick Grahek (senior)...tied for ninth at the ACC Championship...74.00 scoring average...Matt Rushton (sophomore)...tied for sixth at last year's Gopher Invitational.
San Francisco: First time at the Gopher Invitational...third at the West Coast Conference Championships...recorded five top-five finishes.
Top returning players: Sebastian Crookall-Nixon (junior)...fourth at the WCC Championships...73.23 scoring average and three top-10s...Jobim Carlos (senior)...tied for second at the WCC Championships...73.33 average and three top-10s.
St. John's (Minn.): Third consecutive appearance...12th at least year's Gopher Invite...won the MIAC Championships in the fall...finished 15th at the NCAA Division III Championship.
Top returning players: Drew Lynch (senior)...tied for sixth at the MIAC Championships...tied for 38th at the NCAA Championships...76.3 scoring average...Brett Draxler (senior)...MIAC medalist...77.6 average.
UAB: Second time at the Gopher Invitational...second at the Conference USA Championships...second at the NCAA Sugar Grove Regional and 21st at the NCAA Championships...won one tournament and finished in the top five in 12 of 13 tournaments.
Top returning player: Paul Dunne (senior)...narrowly missed the cut at the Open Championship...two collegiate wins in 2013-14 season...tied for 19th at the NCAA Championships...71.5 scoring average.
VCU: Making its first trip to the Gopher Invite...Atlantic 10 champions...finished 11th at the NCAA San Antonio Regional...won three tournaments and had seven total top-five finishes.
Top returning player: Adam Ball (junior)...fifth at the Atlantic 10 Championship...held a 72.94 stroke average...recorded seven top-15 finishes...VCU's top finisher at the NCAA San Antonio Regional (31st).