- Patrick Barron/Daily
By Nathaniel Clark, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 11, 2014
I Love You, California.
The words are not only the title of California’s state song, but they also describe the sentiments of the Michigan men’s golf team after its trip to Chula Vista, Calif.
The Wolverines were in third place after the first two rounds Monday at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic and Michigan coach Chris Whitten hoped his team could take the tournament. Even with a disappointing final round Tuesday, the Wolverines finished fourth out of 13 teams.
Michigan finished with a team score of 871, or seven over par. Only USC, San Diego State and Wake Forest finished ahead of the Wolverines. All three of those teams are ranked in the top 50.
“The guys played with good momentum and good energy on the first day and we finished off the round well,” Whitten said. “Even though the guys were well prepared, the round (on Tuesday) was kind of flat all day. So while we’ll call it a solid tournament, we definitely expected more from today. But that will motivate us going into our next match at Texas A&M.”
Sophomore Chris O’Neill led Michigan, finishing in a two-way tie for sixth place, out of 84 golfers, with a total of 214 strokes, or two under par. He finished the first round with just 69 strokes, including six birdies. In the third round — despite six bogeys — eagles on the eighth and 17th holes, along with three birdies, brought his score to 71 strokes.
“Chris is one of the most consistent golfers on our team,” Whitten said. “Even though he and I both felt his swing was not his best today, he still finished strong and that really helps the team.”
Junior Noori Hyun also had a strong performance for the Wolverines, finishing in a three-way tie for eighth place with a total score of 215, one under par. Hyun scored 70 and 71 on the second and third rounds, respectively, including a birdie on the 16th hole of the third round. Freshman Reed Hrynewich finished in a five-way tie for 13th place with an overall score of 218, two over par. He shot 71 in the first round and 70 in the second.
“Reed knows he has some things to work on,” Whitten said. “But his swing was very good the entire time and that helped a lot.”
Sophomore Andrew Yeager finished in a three-way tie for 25th place with 222 strokes, and he was helped by a 71 in the second round that featured an eagle on the second hole as well as six birdies.
The Wolverines have had no shortage of travel this season, having been to Florida and Puerto Rico as well as California. However, Whitten believes the travel has been good for his team — the warm weather has allowed it to get regular playing time and keep rhythm.
“We had a good spring break trip,” Whitten said. “We got some quality work in at some great golf courses in California. The weather was absolutely perfect during the match.”
But all good things must come to an end, and the Wolverines must now leave their beloved California sunshine behind and return to Michigan, where winter is still very much alive.