Two tournaments into the 2016 fall season, the Michigan men’s golf team has begun what could be a trend: a good Day 1 followed by an even better Day 2.
The Wolverines teed off Sunday in Glenview, Ill., at the Windon Memorial Classic, an annual tournament hosted by Northwestern. The tournament consisted of two rounds Sunday and a final round Monday.
Despite having played only one tournament prior, Michigan coach Chris Whitten felt good about the lineup he chose.
“We had about 10 days, or about two weeks after the first day of school, to play a lot of qualifying rounds around Ann Arbor,” Whitten said. “Between that and looking at their past experiences, that helps us to shape the lineup a little bit.”
Though Michigan ended up shooting an 870 for an impressive third at the tournament, the event did not begin as well as it hoped for.
In the first round, the Wolverines were led by senior Reed Hrynewich, who shot a 68 to lead all competitors in the field. Following Hrynewich were junior Kyle Mueller and sophomore Nick Carlson, who shot 71 and 74, respectively. Overall, the team shot a 288 for the first round, which had Michigan tied for fourth.
Later that day, the Wolverines had to go back on the course for the second round. Michigan was holding its position through the second round before a lightning delay postponed the final two holes of the round until Monday. At the end of Day 1 — with the second round not yet finished — the Wolverines were sitting fifth.
After finishing the final two holes Monday morning, Michigan was still sitting fifth, and Mueller, Hrynewich and Carlson again led the team.
Though the rain and lightning had passed, a strong wind swept through the Windy City metro area, which caused most teams to falter. For the Wolverines, though, the wind was just the boost that they needed.
With the winds behind the team, Michigan shot a day-three score of 288, the lowest third-round score of any of the fourteen teams competing. The next lowest third-round score was a 293, shot by tournament champion Florida.
Leading the charge for the Wolverines during the third round was Mueller, who shot a 67 to earn the individual tournament crown with an overall score of 209.
“Kyle just had a great round today,” Whitten said. “The course played more difficult today; there was really a lot of wind, and the greens were faster, and the hole locations were really tough. So for Kyle to shoot five-under today was a great round.”
Carlson followed Mueller with a round-three 70, and the Wolverines’ total score of 870 put them in third place for the tournament, behind Florida and Eastern Michigan.
“In the first two tournaments of the year we’ve started kind of slow but then had very good final rounds,” Whitten said. “So we need to play a little bit better in rounds one and two.”
With such an experienced lineup returning this year, though, Michigan should be in a good position to meet Whitten’s request. Mueller was one of a small handful of college golfers to compete in the U.S. Open in June, while Carlson made an unexpected run all the way to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur. There, Carlson lost to eventual champion Curtis Luck in a sudden-death, 21st-hole playoff.
“We really have good players on this team, and the guys know it, and they know they are capable of playing well,” Whitten said. “I think our final round in the first two events showed we are capable of competing, so we just have to go play and be confident and do our best every single time.”