On his final tee shot of the day, Kyle Mueller reached the green, giving the sophomore a chance to eagle the par-four 18th hole at the prestigious Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Like the rest of the Michigan men’s golf team, though, he came up short and settled for a birdie.
Tuesday, the Wolverines took third place at Toledo’s Inverness Intercollegiate behind California and East Tennessee State. It was the first time Michigan finished in the top five at the Inverness Club.
Despite the team’s successes, Michigan coach Chris Whitten saw room for improvement.
“We wished we could have been a little bit closer to win the tournament,” Whitten said. “We just made too many mistakes spread out over the three rounds, but I think overall, we’re going in the right direction.”
Mueller’s consistent play was a major part of the Wolverines’ third-place finish.
The Athens, Ga., native was the medalist runner-up, finishing one over par and just three strokes behind Michigan State’s champion Mitch Rutledge. Michigan senior Chris O’Neill finished in a three-way tie for sixth.
Mueller was a dominant force for the Wolverines as a freshman last season, and he added to his resumé Tuesday with the third top-five finish in his 14-event career.
“(Kyle) keeps doing his thing,” Whitten said. “He strikes the ball well, and he really plays smart golf. I don’t think anyone’s surprised that he played well.”
Michigan sent three other golfers to Toledo, including freshman Nick Carlson. Though Carlson didn’t finish in the top 20, Whitten is excited about the growth he’s seeing in his only first-year player.
“(Nick’s) played in both tournaments, which is a big deal for him,” Whitten said. “He’s getting acclimated to college golf and the type of courses we play, so he struggled in the first round this week but got a lot better in rounds two and three. Nick is all you can ask for as a coach.”
This was just the second event for the team this season, so a third-place finish is a positive starting point for the rest of the fall.
“I would say it was a solid tournament,” Whitten said. “It’s one of the best golf courses we’ve played all year, so we learned a lot about how we’re playing and what we need to get better at when we’re there.”