After a rocky start to their fall season, the Michigan men’s golf team came to a strong finish.
Following last week’s competition at Crooked Stick, during which the team ended 10th out of 14 teams, the Wolverines arrived at the Royal Oak Intercollegiate tournament on Monday with a renewed mindset — one focused on putting the past behind them.
In the first round of the game, Michigan had already set itself apart from the other 11 teams. After the first 18 holes, junior Charlie Pilon and senior Brent Ito claimed first and second place with 67 and 68 points, respectively.
Thanks to the help of the rest of the team, the Wolverines were able to finish first overall. This strong start proved to be a welcome change for Michigan.
“They’re learning, which is a good thing. They’re learning from their mistakes,” said Michigan coach Zach Barlow. “They’re seeing that they don’t have to go out there and really do anything special, they just have to play good, solid golf. It’s not about individual honors, it’s all about the team.”
In the following rounds, this team-centered mindset and confidence in their game helped the Wolverines continue to fight towards victory.
Michigan slipped down to fourth place in the second round, mainly due to several bogeys from the players. Brent Ito lost his No. 2 ranking as a result of bogeys on the 1st, 8th, 12th, and 14th holes, ending the round even par (142) in 17th place. Despite this slight drop overall, Pilon remained steady throughout the second round, remaining in first place at 6-under par.
As the team geared up for its third and final round at Royal Oak’s Intercollegiate on Tuesday, Pilon was feeling the pressure to maintain his winning streak.
“I definitely had a bit of nerves," Pilon said. "It was probably the different format for this event— the five of us grouped together instead of with other teams— that helped me calm down a bit and regroup. Obviously I wanted to do a good job individually, but I also wanted to help the team as much as I could, which helped me take my mind off of it a little bit.”
The third round saw improvement for many of Michigan’s players. Brent Ito was able to hit his 5th, 6th and 14th holes under par, leading him to finish in 13th place overall. This gave him his third top-15 individual finish of the season. Additionally, Ben Dunne improved in the third round, ending 2-under par, with 69 points (73-78-69).
Pilon faced some slight challenges in the third round, notching bogeys on the 3rd and 10th hole. He rebounded well, eventually coming out on top, keeping his first-place title and ending the tournament with 205 points (67-69-69).
With these scores, the Wolverines were able to end the tournament in fourth place overall.
While enjoying the feeling of his second collegiate win and a career-low of 205 (8-under par), Pilon was complimentary of his team’s overall progress.
“We had a bit of a slow start to the season,” Pilon said, “but we definitely pulled through coming out of this week.”
With a win to end to its fall season, Michigan is ready to begin preparing for its upcoming season in the spring.
The team’s focus while preparing for the next season will be on its short game.
“Our short games, chipping, putting, they need to get better,” Barlow said, “If we’re going to be the team we desire to be, our short game has to get better.”