Wolverines' swings can't propel them to NCAA Championships

By Alex Khalifeh, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 16, 2015

With foggy weather conditions stopping play and a broken driver, it seemed like the Michigan men’s golf team was in for a difficult time this past week.

Despite the adversarial conditions, the Wolverines were able to perform well, finishing seventh at the Washington Regional Saturday.

Before play began on Thursday, junior Chris O’Neil broke his driver, which resulted in difficult situations for the Wolverine. For the most part, though, O’Neil found ways to finish, exemplified by two birdies on holes two and six. O'Neil completed the tournament tied for 30th.

Michigan faced difficulties on the second day, with fog interfering play during the morning tip-off.

“I thought it was a little bit unusual that they had us begin play when it was a little bit foggy out,” said Michigan coach Chris Whitten. “We played two holes and then they decided to stop. … And we played those first two holes really well … I was a little concerned that by stopping we might lose our momentum a little bit.”

But the Wolverines didn’t let the stoppage disrupt their momentum. Though the seventh-place finish doesn’t allow the team to advance to the finals — Michigan was two spots shy of moving onto the final round — the prideful bunch had nothing to hang their heads about afterward.

“I thought the guys played solid golf,” said Whitten. “Obviously, we wish we would’ve played a little bit better, but (it was) definitely an improvement from (the Big Ten Tournament). And we were happy to improve in every single round.”

Not only did Michigan improve every round, it began the first day with a stunning hole-in-one by sophomore Reed Hrynewich on the 16th hole.

“It was a good tournament for Reed,” said Whitten. “He had been playing exceptionally well going into the tournament, so I think his expectations were pretty high. And the hole-in-one was obviously really cool. It came at a time when our team needed a little bit of a momentum boost.”

Hrynewich finished the first day tied for 22nd with fellow Wolverine and freshman Kyle Mueller. Both teammates finished the day with an even-par 72.

Eventually, however, Mueller and Hrynewich finished in opposite directions, with Hrynewich finishing tied for 39th, while Mueller finished tied for 2nd.

Mueller’s performance was an example of the team improving day-by-day, as he posted a career-best six-under 66 in the second round.

“He’s been such a huge boost for our team,” said Whitten. “Probably the most impressive thing is that he got most of his best finishes when he wasn’t even swinging the best in the second round. … Just incredible putting.”

While Michigan will not participate as a team in the NCAA Finals, individually, Mueller qualified for the individuals’ championship portion of the event.