Gophers' Angus Flanagan headed to NCAA regionals

Angus Flanagan admitted that during his recruiting process two years ago, he had no idea where Minnesota was.

As far as the Woking, England native was concerned, he didn’t “know there was America north of Chicago.” The now sophomore is the next budding star for the Gophers’ men’s golf team, and he’s heading to an NCAA regional after claiming a share of the Big Ten title.

Flanagan learned May 1 he’s heading to the Austin Regional, which will be played at the University of Texas Golf Club May 13-15. It’s one of six regional sites as the top five teams and best individual not on one of those teams advance to the NCAA Championships, May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Arkansas.

Minnesota associate head coach Justin Smith couldn’t be happier that Flanagan ran into one of his Florida golf colleagues on a course two years ago. It took a text message and a phone call to get Flanagan to come north.

Flanagan took visits to Minnesota and UNLV a week apart, in the dead of winter.

“I had to look on the map and was like what have I got myself into? I went on a visit in the middle of January, as well as a visit to UNLV. It was minus-20 here and 85 degrees in Vegas, and for some reason I chose here,” Flanagan said. “I just kind of felt like this would really fit in for me.”

It took a few days for it to sink in that Flanagan’s golf season wasn’t over. He shot a 2-over par 212 at the 54-hole conference tournament last weekend. He was happy to advance to the NCAA regionals, but more frustrated that his final round ended with consecutive bogeys to shoot an even par 70.

He started the Big Ten Tournament with a career-low 5-under par 65 in the first round. It tied for the eighth-lowest round in program history, it was the lowest round by a Minnesota player ever at the Big Ten Tournament and tied a course record at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Pennsylvania.

He’s the first Gophers golfer since Justin Doeden in 2017 to qualify for an NCAA regional. He’s also the first golfer to claim victory at the conference tournament since Jose Mendez in 2014.

With Flanagan, the Gophers have a golfer at the NCAA regionals for the 26th time in the last 28 years.

“He’s building a name for himself that’s going to be right there for many years to come as much as anybody that’s been in this program,” Smith said.

Flanagan competed in nine of Minnesota’s 10 tournaments for the season. In those 27 rounds, he’s compiled a scoring average of 71.59. It leads the Gophers by nearly two full strokes and is third-best in program history for a single season.

He also leads Minnesota with 10 rounds under par, seven tournaments being the low scorer, best finish to par (7 under at the Hawkeye Invitational), low 54-hole scorer, most top-10 and top-20 finishes.

“It was nice to kind of get my name back out there again. My coach kind of puts it back home as like you want to be a big fish in a small pool at some point, whereas when I come over to the states I’m a small fish in a big pool,” Flanagan said. “Now I’ve kind of grown as a fish almost to kind of get myself in the big fish in a small pool.”

His play is making a splash, and he gets at least one more opportunity at the NCAA regional.

The Gophers coaches and teammates that can be will be in attendance when Flanagan takes the first tee May 13 in Texas. In Smith’s mind, there is no reason for Flanagan not to be confident.

“He’s got all the shots, these golf courses get so much more demanding at this time of year. It only favors him for what kind of game he can bring,” Smith said.

Flanagan is just looking forward to playing more golf.

“Just go out there and enjoy it. Take it as it comes, take every shot 1-by-1 and at the end of the day try and put some good rounds together,” Flanagan said. “If I make it to nationals, great. If I don’t then I’ve still got another two years at it. I’m just really excited to get back out and compete again.”