Big Ten Championships: Minnesota will look to improve on last season's10th place finish as they head to the 2010 Big Ten Championships. Sophomore Teresa Puga led the Gophers last season with a sixth place finish. The championships will be hosted by Wisconsin and played at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis. The entire 72-hole event can be followed live at www.golfstat.com. The Purdue Boilermakers have won three of the last four championships (2006, 2008, 2009).
Minnesota is one of seven Big Ten teams to have won a Big Ten Championship in the 28-year history of the event. Ohio State leads all conference teams with 11 titles, followed by Indiana with seven, Purdue with four, Michigan State with three 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 six players in the history of the event (1982-present) to win back-to-back titles.
The Big Ten Conference Championship will be tightly contested as four teams appear in the top 36 of the latest Golfweek rankings, including Purdue (8th), Michigan State (13), Ohio State (19) and Northwestern (36). Indiana is ranked 55th while Minnesota is 57th, Michigan is 63rd, Wisconsin is 64th, Illinois is 73rd Iowa is 127th and Penn State is 135th.
The Gophers: Minnesota's lineup will consist of senior Christine Herzog, juniors Michele Edlin, Mary Narzisi, Teresa Puga and Samantha Sommers and true freshman Jackie Shepherd. Edlin and Puga are the only Gopher players to appear in all of the team's tournaments. Sommers shot a 72-hole score of 323 to lead the returning Gophers at the 2009 Big Ten Championships. Former Gopher Paige Bromen led the squad with a 322.
Puga at It Again: Junior Teresa Puga continues to prove that she is one of the best, if not the best, player to ever tee-it-up for the Maroon & Gold. She already holds the best career stroke average mark in the history of the program at 76.17, thanks to a stellar sophomore season and an even better junior campaign.
Puga heads in to the Big Ten Championships with a spring average of 74.88, which is currently the best in the history of the program. She also holds the best fall season average (74.07 in 2008) and is well on her way to finish with the best season average in program history. She currently sits at 75.2 for the season.
Career Season in the Making: The Gophers established many records individually and as a team last season that may be broken again. Statistically, Minnesota has averaged a combined score of 304.06 this season for a stroke average of 76.01, bettering last season's averages of 311.4 and 77.85, respectively, for the lowest season averages in school history. Prior to last season, the previous low was established by the 1987-88 team with a season average 77.97.
As a team, the Gophers have finished in the top 10 in eight of the team's 10 regular season tournaments thus far this season, five of which were also top-five finishes. Also, the Gophers have established five of the program's top 10 54-hole scores this season, including a season-low 893 in the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate Feb. 21-23.
Individually, Minnesota's roster includes five players that hold season averages under 80.
Up Next: The Gophers will be awaiting the NCAA selection process on Monday to see if they have been selected for the 2010 NCAA Regionals. The Golfweek/Sagarin ratings are used in the process with an estimated cutline at 63. The Gophers currently sit 57th in the most recent rankings. Minnesota hasn't qualified for an NCAA Regional since 2001 and have only appeared in NCAA post-season play five times. The Gophers best finish is 12th at the 1989 NCAA Championships.