BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Minnesota will look to improve on last season’s tie for eighth place finish as they head to the 2009 Big Ten Championships. Sophomore Teresa Puga led the Gophers last season with a sixth place finish. The championships will be hosted by Purdue and played at Brick Boilermaker’s Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Ind. The entire 72-hole event can be followed live at www.golfstat.com. The host Boilermakers are the defending champions.
Minnesota is one of seven Big Ten teams to have won a Big Ten Championship in the 27-year history of the event. Ohio State leads all conference teams with 11 titles, followed by Indiana with seven, Michigan State and Purdue with three apiece and the Gophers, Iowa and Wisconsin all with one title. The Gophers have finished in the top-five 13 times but haven’t done so since a tie for fourth place finish at the 2001 championships.
Former Gopher Kate Hughes won back-to-back individual titles in the 1988 and 1989 championships, the only Minnesota player to win an individual title. Hughes is one of five players in the history of the event (1982-present) to win back-to-back titles.
THIS SEASON: The University of Minnesota women’s golf program has fielded teams every year since 1975, or for 33 seasons. The 2008-09 Gophers are well on their way, statistically, to being the best the program has seen.
Heading into the Big Ten Championships, Minnesota has averaged a combined score of 310.07 for a stroke average of 77.5, the second-lowest average heading into the championships in school history. The 2004-05 team held an average 75.61 heading into the championships and finished seventh.
Individually, sophomore Teresa Puga already holds the lowest fall season scoring average of 74.07, established this season, and currently sits at 76.86 this spring which would be the program’s third lowest spring average. If the season ended today Puga would have the second-lowest average in a season at 75.57. Kate Hughes, arguably the best player in school history, holds the record of 75.51.
Senior Paige Bromen played in four tournaments during the fall schedule and finished with a stroke average of 76.9, the program’s 12th best spring average. Also, sophomore Michele Edlin, Bromen and sophomore Mary Narzisi currently hold season averages of 79.17, 79.18 and 79.28, respectively, which is just outside the school’s top 23 in season average. Edlin and Narzisi’s fall averages of 77.5 and 77.9 almost made the school’s list as well, falling percentage points away from Tai Kinney’s 2001 fall average of 77.41.
As a team, the Gophers have finished in the top 10 in eight of the team’s 10 tournaments this season, five of which were also top-five finishes. Individually, Minnesota’s roster includes seven players that hold season averages under 80.
Minnesota worst finish of the season was a 16th place finish at the Las Vegas Invitational, however, the team’s 54-hole score of 885 is the lowest 54-hole tournament is program history.
THE GOPHERS: Minnesota’s lineup for the championships will include seniors Paige Bromen and Kelli Berns and sophomores Michele Edlin, Mary Narzisi, Teresa Puga and Samantha Sommers.