A late-November trip from frigid Michigan to tropical Hawaii would probably mean carefree relaxation and leisure for most students. But the Michigan men’s golf team took its trip to the Aloha state as an opportunity to showcase its continued improvement in the last tournament of the fall season.
At the Nike Purdue Kiahuna Collegiate Invitational, the Wolverines finally got their breakthrough performance of the fall.
After struggling against tough competition in tournaments earlier this season, Michigan more than held its own in Hawaii with a second-place finish out of nine teams. Just No. 23 Texas finished higher than the Wolverines in a field that also included No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 Clemson.
Coming on the heels of a fourth-place finish at its last tournament, the 49er Collegiate Classic, Michigan’s performance in Hawaii might indicate that the program is on the verge of becoming competitive on the national scene. Victories over nationally ranked teams will help the Wolverines against Big Ten teams and especially during the Big Ten tournament, where they have struggled in the past.
Michigan coach Andrew Sapp credited hard work for the Wolverine’s surprising finish.
“Our team has worked extremely hard over the past month or so preparing for this tournament, and they really earned this,” Sapp said through the athletic department. “I’m just so proud of them because they did a great job.”
Sapp noted that an extra three days of preparation in Hawaii to prepare before the tournament even helped the team immensely.
Three Wolverines finishing in the top 10 didn’t hurt the team’s performance, either. Junior Tim Schaetzel finished in a tie for third, while senior Kevin Dore and freshman Billy McKay finished tied for eighth and ninth, respectively.
“Tim (Schaetzel), we kind of expected to play well, but to have Kevin (Dore) back him up really well and finish eighth was awesome,” Sapp said through the athletic department. “Billy (McKay) we knew was playing well, and we really felt like he was getting more and more mature throughout the fall, as far as his golf was concerned, and really starting to come into his own.”
Michigan has the winter off before the spring season starts with the Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 25.