Mueller sets Michigan record despite lackluster team performance
For most University of Michigan students, Monday afternoons are typically filled with monotonous lectures, shots of espresso and mountains of homework.
But for senior Kyle Mueller, Mondays are for rewriting the record books. This past Monday, he did just that, shooting an incredible 63 (-7) on day one of the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.
The feat was accomplished in the second round of the event, as Mueller made a total of eight birdies to finish the round seven below par. Mueller finished the first day of the event as the second-best golfer, sitting only one shot behind Arkansas’ Mason Overstreet.
Mueller’s final round was not his best, as he shot a 72 and fell to fifth overall for the event. However, it was Mueller’s second round that was the highlight, as he tied UNLV’s Shintaro Ban for the best round in the entire event at 63 strokes.
Mueller is no stranger to the course as he played in last year’s Jerry Pate Intercollegiate and shot a 211 — good for a 13th-place finish. Playing at the Old Overton Club (Par 70, 7,204 yards), Mueller shot a 203 this year, beating his previous score by eight strokes.
“(Mueller) is the best player in the history of our program,” said Michigan coach Chris Whitten. “The guys get to see that and see the way that he goes about practicing and handling himself in the tournaments — and even without the golf he’s a fantastic team leader. He’s everything a coach could ask for.”
Despite Mueller’s valiant effort and demeanor, the rest of the Wolverines struggled on the course. Michigan finished 11th out of 12 teams in the event, and it was truly a mixed bag of results as season bests and season worsts were had across the team.
“It was a mix of two different sides of the team,” Whitten said. “On the one hand, we had Kyle Mueller who played so well — and then we had some good rounds from the other guys, but to count scores in the mid-to-high seventies on that course was tough and just put us behind.”
Michigan’s second man, junior Nick Carlson, finished the day ranked 35th after rounds of 74 and 73, and hit a 68 in the third round.
“For some of the guys, I think that they overall hit the ball really nicely,” Whitten said. “And around the greens is what needs to get cleaned up this week — and for some other guys I think we have some decision-making things to talk about.”
Speaking to the difficulty of playing on a new course, Michigan’s top three golfers — Mueller, Carlson, and sophomore Brent Ito — had all played at the same event last year. The two newcomers, freshman Henry Spring and senior Ian Kim fought to find their bearings on the new terrain. Spring and Kim could have faced even less exposure to the course, as the Sunday afternoon practice round was almost derailed by Tropical Storm Nate.
“The comfort level of having played the course before it helps for sure,” Whitten said “You know, that’s what happens with new players and we just gotta learn from it and get better.”
Michigan will use its two weeks off from competition seeking to rebound on another familiar course in Dallas. The Wolverines will play at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate on Oct.-23
“We’re going to a course that we’ve played before and know,” Whitten said. “So I think we’ll get in really good preparation before the tournament.”