WAYZATA, Minn. (SMU) - After moving from tied for seventh to second in the first-two rounds yesterday, SMU kept pace and earned a runner-up finish at the Gopher Invitational hosted by the Spring Hill Golf Club and the University of Minnesota on Monday afternoon.
SMU's lineup for the event included three freshmen, all of who finished inside the top-12. Bryson Dechambeau had the best result for the Mustangs, finishing at a 2-over, 218 (76-69-73). Two other Mustangs finished in the top-10, with junior Harry Higgs (3-over, 219, 76-69-74) finishing tied for sixth and freshman Ryan Burgess (5-over, 221, 78-69-74) tying for ninth. Freshman Austin Smotherman finished 12th at a 6-over, 222 (77-68-77).
The second-place finish is noteworthy, considering eight of the 15 teams in the tournament were ranked higher than SMU at the end of last season. Dechambeau, Burgess, and Smotherman all made their collegiate debuts this weekend.
"It's a great start to the year for such a young team," Head Coach Josh Gregory said. "Four guys finishing in the top-12 is very impressive."
SMU as a team was tied for the second-lowest score of the day with a 10-over. In the second round, the Mustangs posted the second-lowest team round of the tournament with a 275 including two incredible holes. Higgs aced the 17th hole in round two, and Smotherman posted a double-eagle on the par-5 3rd in the same round. Overall, over the last two rounds, SMU outshot the field by 15 strokes.
"We grew up a bit this week, and we got in contention," Gregory said. "That was my goal."
Par-5's were particularly friendly for SMU for the event, with Dechambeau finishing tied for first in scoring on those holes with a 6-under, and Smotherman tied for third with a 5-under.
No. 6 California won the event with a team score of 2-under. No. 49 Corey Conners of Kent State won the individual championship with a 3-under, 213 (75-70-68). Conners started the day tied for seventh with Dechambeau, Higgs and Smotherman.
No. 12 Arkansas, No. 15 Kent State, and No. 20 New Mexico rounded out the team top-five.
5 - Bryson Dechambeau 76-69-73=218 (+2)
T6 - Harry Higgs 76-69-74=219 (+3)
T9 - Ryan Burgess 78-69-74=221 (+5)
T12 - Austin Smotherman 77-68-77=222 (+6)
T41 - Sam Fidone 74-75-83=232 (+16)