With spring comes new changes. For the Michigan men’s golf team, spring has brought the emergence of new, young standouts looking to lead the program into its next era.
This week in the team’s first event since its 15th-place finish at the Louisiana Classics in Lafayette almost a month ago, the Wolverines competed in the two-day, 54-hole Mossy Oak Collegiate at Mossy Oak Golf Club in West Point, Miss. They tied for 12th in the 19 team field. Freshman Hunter Thomson led Michigan with a low card of 211 (-5), finishing seventh individually against a stacked field of nine top-100 golfers.
“I think we left a lot of shots out there,” Michigan coach Zach Barlow said.
Barlow felt disdain quickly following the first tee, when the Wolverines came out flat after a weather delay held back the tournament’s initial start time by over an hour-and-a-half. Barlow emphasized the importance of a strong start, especially under the circumstances of a weather delay.
“I felt like we came out okay in comparison to the field,” Barlow said. “But I think in the future, if we learn from that and stay ready, I feel like we can come out even better and maybe gain some strokes on the field instead of just playing even with the field.”
No one on the Wolverines followed the team’s trend of starting slow and kicking into gear late more closely than Thomson, who began his first round +2 through nine holes. He concluded his round with a score of 70 (-2), aided by a four-birdie streak on his way back to the clubhouse.
“I just (stuck) to my gameplan the whole time, just play really conservative,” Thomson said. “Hit some shot up there to 30, 40 feet and try to two putt, and if they go in, they go in. The hole was just getting in the way on those birdies.”
Thomson continued his momentum into the next two rounds, breaking out for a 68 (-4) in round three after an early eagle.
“Hunter has really stood out this year, but we knew that, that’s why we brought him in,” Barlow said. “He’s a stud. He’s going to be a stud for many years to come.”
Other key contributors for Michigan were the program’s two other freshmen, Bavake Sihota, who shot 222 (+6), and Yuqi Liu, who shot 230 (+14). Sihota has started every event this spring, and Liu tallied his second start in a row at Mossy Oak.
“Bavake and Yuqi, really this season they’re starting to come to their own and really making an impact on the team in a positive way,” Barlow said. “And I really think a lot of big things are in their future.”
With Big Ten Championships coming up in a few weeks, it’s time for the Wolverines to see if they have what it takes to make a postseason run. But even if this doesn’t turn out to be their year, this spring has offered glimpses into a bright future for this blossoming young program.
“Over the next year or two, I think by senior year we’ll be really doing some damage out here,” Thomson said. “I have really high aspirations for us three, for sure.”