The Gophers' men's golf team hit the links for the first time since Feb. 9 this weekend, competing in the Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Georgia.
In its first stroke play tournament of the spring season, Minnesota finished ninth in the 14-team field, shooting a combined 22-over 886.
"Looking at our games, we knew from having some time off there'd be a few unknowns," said head coach Justin Smith. "I think from tee-to-green-wise, we did a pretty good job with that, we just didn't get the ball in the hole."
Sophomore Angus Flanagan led the Gophers in scoring for the fourth time in the last five stroke play tournaments. He finished his first round with a 69 (-3) which tied for the third lowest score of the day among individuals. On Saturday he shot a 3-over par 75 and on Sunday he shot a 2-over par 74, finishing with a cumulative score of 218 (+2), tied for 21st among individuals.
"I'm pretty happy with where [my game] is at," Flanagan said. "And moving forward I'm hoping, obviously, that I can lead the team again and hopefully everyone else can follow suit and feed off each other in the future."
Minnesota received strong performances from its other underclassmen as well. Freshmen Lincoln Johnson and Harry Plowman-Ollington led the way on Sunday. Johnson shot a team-low 70 (-2) in the third round and Plowman-Ollington wasn't far behind with an even-par 72. With a 221, (+5) Johnson was second on the team in scoring over the weekend and tied for 34th overall.
"I finally saw some putts go in," Johnson said. "I was able to get into a rhythm with my iron shots, get closer to the hole, eventually make some putts and make some birdies."
Sophomore Evan Long came in third among the Gophers, tying for 47th overall, with an 8-over 224. Plowman-Ollington's 227 (+11) tied him for 63rd and junior Noah Rasinski's 229 (+13) tied for 69th. Competing as an individual, junior Thomas Longbella tied for 71st with a 14-over, 230.
The tournament hosts, Georgia Southern, had a strong tournament. It took first place with a 838 (-26), winning by 13 strokes thanks to a remarkable Sunday in which the team shot 20-under-par. Georgia Southern senior Steven Fisk finished first among individuals with a cumulative 202 (-14).
The Gophers won't have to wait nearly as long for their next tournament. They will be back on the course on Friday at the Furman Intercollegiate in Greenville, South Carolina. Meanwhile, the team will be staying in the Southeast over spring break to practice as well as relax.
"We're spending three days down here in Hilton Head," Smith said. "We'll be out playing and practicing and we've got a plan set up in place to get ourselves ready and tie up some of these loose ends."