The Michigan men's golf team placed ninth at the Aggie Invitational, in part due to an uncharacteristic weekend of Texas weather.
“The weather, really all day (Saturday), it was up there for one of the two or three worst weather days I’ve ever had in fourteen years of coaching,” said Michigan head coach Chris Whitten. “It was so cold and rainy and windy.
Up against seven top-10 teams in a field of 14, the Wolverines shot 36-over (900), 31 shots behind the champion, No. 1 Oklahoma State.
Leading the way for Michigan was senior Kyle Mueller, who placed fifth individually at 3-under par for the weekend. However, he and his team had an off-round to begin the tournament.
“It’s a hard golf course to begin with, and we brought all the layers that we could,” Whitten said. The guys were absolutely prepared, but they were still absolutely freezing. And when you can’t feel your hands in golf, it gets tough.”
Despite the unfavorable conditions and suspended play due to darkness, the Wolverines rebounded, posting the second-highest team score in the second round early Sunday morning. The effort was led by Mueller as well as senior Ian Kim, who shot 1-under and even-par, respectively.
“That was just the guys’ complete, sheer determination,” Whitten said. “(The course) was still playing almost as tough in the afternoon as it was in the morning, and they just got in a groove and went to work.
“Kyle (Mueller) is just like a rock every single week. He’s always going to be in contention, which is fantastic for our team. And Ian (Kim) gave us a really good second round. And the guys felt good.”
Through the front nine of the final round, Michigan remained in contention, ahead of three top-25 teams. The wheels came off on the back nine, though, which caused the Wolverines to settle for ninth in the tournament.
“I think we made a couple too many mistakes on the final nine holes of the final round, and I wish we would have finished a little bit higher,” Whitten said. “But the guys fought pretty hard the whole time.
“We just couldn’t hit enough good shots, and a couple guys missed some shorts putts, too. We had done well. It’s just that good play needs to continue all 54 holes and until the very end of the tournament. You can’t just play two good rounds or two-and-a-half good rounds.”
One underlying story that affected Michigan’s lineup this past weekend was that junior starter Nick Carlson missed the first tournament in his career due to a shoulder injury. Recognizing that it will take time for the injury to heal, Whitten continues to look forward with the players he currently has.
“The second-round of the tournament was very good, and I think we can look at what we did there from top to bottom,” Whitten said. “And that’s what we need every round, every week.”