As the saying goes, “there are no prizes given for halftime scores.”
The Michigan men’s golf team learned it the hard way when it finished play in the final round of the Hawkeye Intercollegiate in Iowa City on Sunday.
The Wolverines started the tournament with a solid first round of 289 on Saturday morning and then finished the second round in second place with a team score of 288.
Entering the final 18 holes on Sunday, the Wolverines seemed poised to take the overall lead and Western Illinois but faltered slightly from their third-round score and finished the last round in third place with a score of 289.
“We compete to win,” Michigan coach Andrew Sapp said. “Whether we finish first, second or third, we want to compete going into the final round. We wanted to try to beat both Western Illinois and Iowa on Sunday, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”
Senior Christian Vozza paced Michigan in the first two rounds of the tournament, shooting 70 twice to finish Saturday four under par. Vozza was tied for fourth place behind Tim Streng of Western Illinois who led the individual golfers with a 10-under 134 before Sunday’s final round began.
Even though the Wolverines had three golfers finish in the top 15 after the first two rounds, Sunday was a different story. Vozza, senior Brandon Duff and freshman Bill Rankin were the only Michigan golfers to finish in the top 20. Vozza followed his solid start with a disappointing 5-over 77 on Sunday to finish with a 1-under performance over the weekend.
Meanwhile both Duff and Rankin finished with a 71 on Sunday to ensure that the Wolverines did not fall further down the pack.
“Bill Rankin never played a bad round,” Sapp said. “He hit the ball well all weekend, and I was glad to see his performance.”
The Hawkeye Intercollegiate tournament started out very promising for the Wolverines, but due to a poor showing on Sunday, they left Iowa City without the unparalleled high of a tournament victors.
Instead, Michigan dropped a chance to pass Western Illinois and finished a distant third. Iowa had a strong Sunday to claim second place.
While Western Illinois coasted to an easy victory – Iowa finished 19 points behind it. But the Hawkeyes used a strong final round from Larson, Cole Peevler and Luke Miller – who finished with a 69, 69 and 71, respectively – to pull ahead of the Wolverines and capture second place with a team score of 864.
Although Michigan would have preferred a first-place finish, Sapp was pleased with his team’s fierce competition in the tournament. The third-place finish showed Sapp that even though his team needs to improve, they are on the right track to have a good season and a strong finish.
“(The competition) will not just make it more of a challenge for the golfers to get into the starting lineup but also stay in it,” Sapp said.
After a slightly disappointing final round in the Hawkeye Intercollegiate, the Wolverines return to Ann Arbor to prepare for their next tournament – the Wolverine Intercollegiate – on Sept. 24-25.