After steady improvement over the past two tournaments —
including its best finish in nearly three seasons on March 28 and a
strong performance against Big Ten competition at the Boilermaker
Invitational over the weekend — the Michigan men’s golf
team took a step back last weekend at the Robert Kepler
Intercollegiate in Columbus.

The Wolverines finished the 54-hole tournament with a total team
score of 922, placing 14th of 18 teams. With scores of 308 and 311,
respectively, in the first and second rounds, the Wolverines carded
their highest single-round scores since early March. The Wolverines
have struggled to bounce back after bad early scores all
season.

“I think often times we get down on ourselves early and
then just struggle to try to get back,” Michigan coach Andrew
Sapp said. “When you’re struggling to try to get shots
back, you might make a few risks you probably shouldn’t. And
they’re called risks for a reason. Sometimes you make another
double because of it, trying to get another birdie or trying to
fight back.”

Unlike previous tournaments, Michigan responded to poor
first-day play by carding a solid 303 total in the third round,
moving up two places in the final standings. But much of this
improvement can be attributed to senior Rob Tighe’s
season-best 71, rather than to the team’s overall
performance.

“Rob kind of bailed us out; he had a great score,”
Sapp said. “That’s what made a huge difference in the
final round. We had the same type of play from everyone else, but
Rob’s play today helped us keep our score low.

“Still, we had to count a pair of 79s, which kept us from
having one of our best rounds of the season and really moving up in
the standings,” Sapp said.

Xavier won the team title with an 886 total after leading the
field throughout the tournament. Host Ohio State finished in a tie
for third place, carding a three-round score of 895.

After defeating three of seven Big Ten teams two weeks ago,
Michigan beat just one of the nine other Big Ten teams competing in
Columbus last weekend — Wisconsin. Sapp was disappointed with
his team’s showing against the Big Ten, particularly with the
conference championships just three weeks away.

“When you’re counting scores in the low 80s,
you’re not going to be able to score low as a team,”
Sapp said. “This weekend, part of it was due to the
difficulty of the golf course. Part of it was not hitting well.
There was also a lot of poor putting among the guys who scored in
the low 80s.”

Michigan’s best — and most consistent — play
came from freshman Kevin Dore, who led the Wolverines with a 225
total score. By placing in a tie for 17th overall, Dore carded his
best finish of the spring season and finished in the top 20 for the
third time.

In order to regain momentum from the two tournaments before last
weekend, Sapp is counting on the continued strong play and
leadership of Dore and sophomore Christian Vozza.

“(Dore and Vozza) are obviously handling it well because
they’re doing it week-in and week-out,” Sapp said.
“It’s one of those things where apparently
they’re getting comfortable doing it. Fortunately for us,
they’ve been able to do it the last three
tournaments.”

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