On his way to a record performance, sophomore Kyle Mueller led the Michigan men’s golf team to a fifth-place finish at the MacKenzie Invitational in Fairfax, California.

After limping to a 13th-place finish at the event in 2014, the Wolverines saw significant improvement this year in an event that broke several program records. Mueller broke the Michigan tournament record by four strokes with a 198 on his way to finishing fourth overall. Joining him in the top 10 was senior Chris O’Neill, who played a bogey-free final round to finish with a personal-best 204. As a team, the Wolverines shot a program-record 824, shattering the previous mark by 15 shots.

“I’d say it was a good event,” said Michigan coach Chris Whitten. “I’m never going to say that I’m real happy about finishing fifth, but we definitely saw some good things from our guys, and we can take some confidence from the way we scored.”

After starting the final day 11 strokes behind California, the tournament winner, Michigan struggled to gain its footing on the front nine before finishing the day strong with a 275. The Wolverines did most of their damage on the par-5s, scoring 28 under par while only posting one bogey throughout the tournament.

“The ball striking this week was very good,” Whitten said. “Probably the best I’ve seen from most of our guys this fall, which is really encouraging.” 

Mueller tied a program record with a 64 in the second round to cap his third straight top-five tournament finish, largely due to his ability to avoid bogeys. After three bogeys crippled an otherwise-stellar first round, Michigan’s top finisher did not bogey a hole for the remainder of the tournament. Mueller ended with a 69-64-65, falling a mere two strokes short of winner Cody Blick from San Jose State.

Despite a solid finish in the team standings, Whitten believes there is room for improvement from this week’s record-setting performance. Michigan finished just five strokes shy of second place and is looking to cut down on mistakes moving forward to the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas on Oct. 26.

“We were giving shots back with some bogeys and you really can’t afford to do that,” Whitten said. “We have to continue to work on our strategy a little bit and continuing to analyze the situation we’re in and choosing the correct shot to execute it as good as we can.”

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