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Minnesota Golf: What Have You Missed?

It’s been a great summer for a couple of Gopher golfers

R&A Amateur Championship - Day Two Photo by Luke Walker/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

We continue on our semi-indefinite series of What have you missed in the last few months of sports. This time we take a look at the very good summer that is being had by several Minnesota Golden Gophers golfers.

We start with a look at the Gopher women. Two current Gophers have had success wining amateur tournaments this summer. Back in June rising Gopher sophomore Grace Curran won the Minnesota State Match Play Championship at The Wilds in Prior Lake. Curran was one of three Gophers in the final field of 32 including the 2019 winner and Minnesota rising junior Grace Kellar and rising sophomore Emma Carpenter. All thee Gophers won their first round match to make it to the round of 16. However both Kellar and Carpenter would lose their next matches—Kellar 5&3 to Sophia Yoemans and Carpenter 1 up to Jasi Acharya.

Curran easily won her first round match 6&5, and then won 2 up in the round of 16. She had an easy time in the quarterfinals winning 5&4 and then defeated Nebraska nativeKate Strickland 2&1 to reach the championship match. Curran would face Kathryn VanArragon the winner of the 2019 Minnesota Women’s Amateur—and who is only 15 years old in the final. Curran would take an early 2 up lead through four holes after a pair of VanArragon bogies, but Curran would give a hole back to take a 1 up lead at the turn. VanArragon found her stroke birding holes ten and eleven to take a 1 up lead of her own. Curran would make a late charge and would birdie hole 17 to even the match. The two players halves the q8th hole and would need to go to extra holes. Curran hit an errant tee shot on the extra hole, but would recover to put her approach second shot six feet from the cup. She knocked in the birdie putt to claim the title. You can see her talk about her title with Mike Grimm below:

Another rising sophomore Gopher found her own success just last week. Annabelle Ackroyd won her third consecutive Alberta Junior Girls Championship. Ackroyd earned a six-shot victory in the 54-hole tournament, finishing at 2-under par (68-66-73—207). The champion of the tournament in 2018 and 2019 as well, she tallied eight birdies in the opening round while carding a 66 on Wednesday, a day in which the course format was altered to par-65 after rain forced changes.

The Gopher men have been represented by a player who is having a great spring and summer. Gopher junior Angus Flanagan has earned all kind of honors with his play this spring and summer. Flanagan was named in late March to the 2020 Arnold Palmer Cup International Team. While the actual event will not happen due to COVID-19, Flanagan would have joined golfers from 14 other countries on the Internationals team as they compete in a Ryder Cup-style match play event pitting United States college golfers against those from international countries. Flanagan is a England citizen.

His load of honors from his spring season with the Gophers continued to pile up as he was named a member of the Division I PING Midwest All-Region team for the second straight season in April. He would add another huge honor in late April as he would be named a Third-Team All-American by both the Golf Coaches Association of America and Golfweek. He is the first Gopher All-American since 2014, but the first to be named third team or higher since 2005. In May Flanagan was named a unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection as well.

While his collegiate season was cut short, Flanagan continued his great play into the summer. In July he would win the Minnesota State Open held at Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo. Flanagan was on fire on his final round setting a new course record shooting a 8-under par 64 anchored with an emphatic tournament clinching eagle on 18. His win by two shots topped a Gopher heavy field. Ten current or former Gophers competed in the tournament with curretn Gophers Connor Gylnn taking 31st, Noah Rasinski 33rd, and Lincoln Johnson 51st. Notable alums in the field included current Gopher assistant coach Matt Rachey who tied for 12th, former Gopher hockey star Ben Clymer who finished 23rd, and former Gopher golfer, and husband of Lindsay Whalen, Ben Greve who finished in 41st.

After winning, Flanagan was surprised with a Sponsor’s Exemption into the PGA Tour’s 3M Open which is taking place this weekend at TPC Twin Cities. Flanagan is joined by two other Gopher alums in the field including Minnesota golf legend Tom Lehman and rising star Erik Van Rooyen. Van Rooyen has been having his best career year in 2020 on the PGA Tour. He set a career best with a 3rd place finish at the World Golf Championships-Mexico event in February and has follwed that up in the recent restart of the PGA with a 21st place finish at the RBC Heritage, and a 22nd place finish last weekend at The Memorial. He found time to talk to Mike Grimm for the Gopher Sports Podcast that can be listened to HERE.

The Gopher trio has been enjoying the week at TPC Twin Cities and Flanagan and Van Rooyen played together in a practice round on Tuesday, and then Lehman joined the group for nine holes on Wednesday.

The actual tournament began on Thursday with Lehman and Van Rooyen teeing off at 8:10 AM, and Flanagan in the final round of the day at 2:00 PM. It was an up and down day for the trio of Gophers as Lehman led the way with an even par 71. Flanagan would shoot +2, and Van Rooyen would be +3 after the first round. Flanagan is believed to be the first even Gopher to play in a PGA Tour event while still in school.

The three players will be back out on Friday to attempt to make the cut. As of 11;45 Friday morning Flanagan was even par for the day and +2 for the tournament through nine holes of his second round with the projected cut line being at -1. Lehman and Van Rooyen will tee off for their second round at 1:20 PM.