For the first time since 1993, the Michigan men’s golf team played just one round in the rain-shortened 18-hole Inverness Intercollegiate Tournament on Tuesday. For the second time in two weeks, Michigan finished with a disappointing score by its own standards.
The Wolverines tied for seventh with an aggregate score of 301. The tournament was originally scheduled for two days, but rain forced officials to cancel Monday’s round.
Senior Matt Thompson and junior Matt Alessi were Michigan’s top golfers for the round. They tied each other for 17th with a pair of three-over 74s.
“(The one-round tournament) was an unusual event,” said Michigan coach Chris Whitten. “Statistically, the more golf you play, the better teams are going to rise to the top. But in a one-round shootout, we prepare for every round the same way, and we think that every shot we hit in the tournament has the same value. So it’s no different game plan, no different attitude. Just a little bit of unusual routine maybe.”
Whitten said nobody stepped up to carry the team through a below-average round, but he was impressed by former walk-on Alessi and junior Miguel Echavarria, who shot a five-over 76.
The Inverness Club — the host course for the tournament — gave the team difficulty with its short game.
“The greens at this course were very small, so they’re hard to hit, which puts pressure on your short game,” Whitten said. “I thought our shots around the green were maybe a little bit sloppy at times.”
Three other Big Ten teams participated in the tournament. Michigan State and Penn State finished directly ahead of Michigan. The Spartans took fourth with a 295, followed by the Nittany Lions, who shot one stroke ahead of the Wolverines. Ohio State, which finished ahead of all three teams in last spring’s Big Ten Championship, finished last in the 11-team field with a 305.
Michigan has struggled in both of the tournaments it has played in this year, as it finished sixth as the host team at the Wolverine Intercollegiate Tournament earlier this month. Still, Whitten says the team is not far off from its potential.
“I think we’re still figuring out what our team looks like,” Whitten said. “We don’t have to make huge jumps in terms of our games, but I think the results will definitely get better.”