There may be a different look to the Michigan men”s golf team when it competes this weekend in the Kepler Intercollegiate in Columbus.
After sending the same five players to its previous four spring tournaments, Michigan is holding a qualifier this week to determine who will represent the Wolverines.
Scott Hayes, Andrew Chapman and Scott Carlton are exempt because of their solid play at last weekend”s Marshall Invitational. But Andy Matthews and Kyle Kilcherman have struggled in the last two tournaments.
Michigan is trying to play its way into the NCAA Tournament, and it will need low scores all the way around. So coach Jim Carras decided to let the team duke it out for the chance to play this weekend.
The qualifier is based on the lowest scores and an evaluation by the coaches, so if Matthews and Kilcherman improve they”ll be heading to Columbus Friday. But if not, two other Wolverines will get an opportunity to tee off and help the team battle for a spot in the post-season tournament.
And what a battle it will be.
Michigan, which has one other tournament after the Kepler Intercollegiate and must play very well in both to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, will square off against the best District IV teams on Ohio State”s Scarlet Course. The 18-team field features five of the top six teams in the district, including first-place Northwestern.
The Wolverines wouldn”t want it any other way. Coach Carras said he could schedule the season so that Michigan won every week, but that wouldn”t help the team in the long run.
“I”m like Bobby Knight in basketball,” Carras said. When Knight coached at Indiana he scheduled the toughest teams “instead of playing all the puppies. He thought you learned more from losing to a good team than from beating a weaker team.”
Once they”re on the course, the Wolverines have to play like they”re the only team out there.
“You just play the course,” Carras said. ” You can”t worry about what anybody else is doing, you worry about what you can controlyour game.”
Michigan is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. After winning their first spring tournament, the Wolverines faltered mid-season thanks to a string of inconsistent play.
Not only has their scoring fluctuated, but their problems extend beyond any single aspect of the game. They”ve struggled with everything from execution to course management to confidence in putting.
Last weekend, Michigan putted well and did a better job of keeping the ball in the fairway. But only three players had good overall rounds.
With just two outings left to prove itself worthy of the NCAA Tournament, Michigan has to pull everything together in a hurry.
“We need a complete team effortfive contributors,” Carras said.
So no matter who Michigan ends up taking to Columbus this weekend, all the Wolverines must bring their “A” games.