Jose Mendez, men's golf

Take a quick swing to Independence if you want to walk the course with arguably the best golfer in the Big Ten.

The Gophers men's team will host its only home tournament of the season Sunday and Monday at Windsong Farm Golf Club. If you go, keep pace with Jose Mendez.

The sophomore from Costa Rica is the defending Big Ten individual co-champion after a season that also included Big Ten Freshman of the Year and honorable-mention All-America honors. Mendez is touted as one of the top athletes in Costa Rica, alongside its top soccer players.

"He's better right now than when he left in June. His short game is sharper and putter is better. He's gained about 10-15 yards on his drive," coach John Carlson said. "I think he's the best player in our conference and can compete for a national championship."

Gophers coaches met Mendez when he was a relatively unknown 10th-grader. Now he's playing in some of the world's top amateur tournaments — and winning some, including the Callaway Junior World Golf Championship. On Tuesday, just hours after the Gopher Invitational, Mendez will fly to Tokyo to compete in the World Amateur Team Championships.