Although the weather in San Juan was sunny, the Golf Gods were not shining on the Michigan men’s team this week. In the prestigious Puerto Rico Invitational, the Michigan golf team finished 18th. The top scorers for the Wolverines were junior Dave Nichols, who finished in 78th place, and Mark McIntosh, who was the only Wolverine to have two rounds in the 70s.

For coach Andrew Sapp’s squad, the last-place finish was no doubt discouraging, and the coach seemed to have a good idea as to why.

“I don’t think we were mentally prepared as individuals (for Puerto Rico),” Sapp said, “We were hitting the ball well on the driving range, but it took us a long time to adjust to the playing conditions.”

In addition, some of the top talent in the country that competed in the tournament helped contribute.

“When you are playing in a tournament with some of the top talent in the country – the Oklahoma States, Clemsons and others, its difficult to perform well,” Sapp said.

However, he didn’t feel that this was an excuse and said that, despite the lack of good playing conditions in Ann Arbor, Minnesota (which finished second on the tournament) also had to face similar conditions.

Despite Michigan’s finish, Sapp was thinking positively about the future of this team. “This tournament gives us a barometer of what it is like to play with the top teams and where we need to go forward,” Sapp said. “These players, three of whom are freshmen, will look back on this event as a stepping stone to achieve greater things.”

With another tournament coming up in Myrtle Beach March 10-11, Sapp stressed two important things.

“We’ll be working on our ball striking and some of the swing changes we made over the winter,” Sapp said. “But I think for us mainly, it’s to be mentally prepared.”

But Sapp still had his eye on the ball, in this case the Big Ten Tournament in May at Indiana University. “We should go down to Myrtle each and play well.” Sapp said. “Our goal is to get better, and take the important steps … to improve towards our big event, the Big Ten championships.”

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