Following a four-month break from competition, the Michigan
men’s golf team returned to action Saturday to participate in
a tri-match with Arizona State and Purdue at Karsten Course in
Tempe, Ariz.

With the team focused on getting back into competition, Michigan
finished third with a team total of 299, behind Purdue at 290 and
Arizona State at 289.

Sophomore Brandon Duff led the way for the Wolverines, carding a
one-over-par 73 — the day’s fifth-lowest individual
total. Sophomore Christian Vozza and freshman Will Kendall each
posted rounds of 75, followed by freshmen Kevin Dore and Matt
McLaughlin and senior Dave Nichols, who shot rounds of 76, 79 and
88, respectively.

Michigan and Purdue were scheduled to play a second round in the
afternoon, but after frost delayed the start of the first round in
the morning, the match was called due to darkness.

Michigan head coach Andrew Sapp called the team’s
performance “fairly solid” for the beginning of the
spring season, but said that the main goal of the match was to get
back into the flow of competition after the winter off-season.

“It has been absolutely great to get back out on a course
and to play some competitive golf,” Sapp said. “We
wanted to focus on getting some quality competition in and shake
off a little rust.”

With four of the six golfers shooting rounds between 73 and 76,
Sapp praised the consistency of the individual performances and
noted the high number of birdies made throughout the match.

At the same time, Sapp emphasized that there is room for
improvement, citing triple bogeys, errant tee shots and shots hit
into the water as the most frequent mistakes on Saturday.

“There were a lot of first-time mistakes,” Sapp
said. “We want to be consistent at 72, rather than at 74 or
75.”

The Wolverines addressed some of these errors Sunday, as the
team remained in Arizona to get in another practice round in the
warm weather before returning to snowy Ann Arbor. In addition to
working on its short game, the team was able to improve in some
areas that caused problems on Saturday.

Both the tri-match and the extra practice allowed Michigan to
prepare for the first true team competition of the spring season,
the Puerto Rico Classic starting Feb. 22 in Palmer, Puerto Rico.
This tournament will be a tough challenge for the Wolverines, as
some of the best teams in the nation will compete, including the
last five NCAA champions. Michigan competed in the tournament last
year, and finished in last place. Sapp believes the
Wolverines’ participation in the tri-match Saturday will lead
to a better performance next week.

“I cannot say enough about how important this trip has
been for us in our preparation,” Sapp said.

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