After spending the week of spring break playing on the links of Pebble Beach and Cypress Point in California, it was time for the Michigan men’s golf team to get back to work.
Michigan coach Andrew Sapp took six players to participate in the Fresno State Lexus Classic on Monday and Tuesday. After tying for 13th in the Puerto Rico Classic two weeks ago, the Wolverines finished fifth in a field of fifteen that included national powerhouses Oregon and Washington.
All six players played in the 54-hole event, with only the top five scores counting in each round. When the California sun set just a little too early Monday evening, round two had to be halted and was completed on Tuesday morning.
But, it didn’t stop Michigan from dominating the second round. After a mediocre first round, the team regrouped to shoot a tournament-best round of six under par.
“I think they just got a little upset with themselves after the first round,” Sapp said. “They all played a lot more focused and a lot better…unfortunately we weren’t able to keep it going in the third round.”
Overall, Sapp was satisfied with his team’s play, but he was a bit upset about the Wolverines’ poor third round.
“Fifth place in a good field is a good finish, but when we were flirting with the lead early on (Tuesday), it leaves a little bitter taste in our mouths,” Sapp said. “We felt like we could have gotten on top of the leaderboard if we had done a few things a little better in round three.”
But Sapp was very content with the play of his two top players, junior Lion Kim and sophomore Matt Thompson. Thompson shot one under par in the windy conditions of round three, and Kim shot four under par in round two, tying for the second-best individual round of the tournament.
“The way our season has gone, if Matt and Lion play well, we play well as a team,” Sapp said.
Sapp added that the consistency of freshman Jack Schultz has been a great sign for the Wolverines. Schultz finished with a team-best three over par overall, which put him in a tie for 14th in the overall individual standings.
Brigham Young and No. 24 San Diego, who tied to win the tournament, each finished the tournament twenty strokes over par — seven better than the Wolverines’ twenty seven over par.
The team returns to Ann Arbor and will get a break before Michigan travels to Florida on March 26 for the FAU/Spring Break Championships. And with the season in full swing, it is clear that playing everyday in the nice weather over break helped the young squad — which has five underclassmen — gain some confidence.
“We just hope that we get some good weather in Ann Arbor so we can finally play outside. The more we’re able to play when we’re at home, I think the more comfortable we’ll be when we’re in our next tournament,” Sapp said. “Hopefully with the better weather and playing conditions we’ll be able to keep improving throughout the rest of the season.”