Riding the confidence from previous tournaments, everyone on the Michigan men’s golf team expected a strong finish in Boca Raton at the Florida Atlantic University Spring Break Championship.
The Wolverines got exactly the opposite.
In the tournament, Michigan placed sixth out of 16 after maintaining third place for the first two rounds.
“We just closed today with a terrible round,” Michigan coach Andrew Sapp said.
The first two rounds were far from what was expected as well. In the first round, sophomore Matt Thompson shot an 81. Thompson’s quintuple bogey on the third hole derailed a consistent start to the round.
In the second round, junior Lion Kim had five birdies and a great opportunity to bring the Wolverines closer to the scores posted by Illinois. Unfortunately for Michigan, two double bogeys down landed him a final score of 68 and the Wolverines trailed far behind the Fighting Illini.
Playing in the final group on the last day, the Wolverines succumbed to the pressure and posted a nine-over round that caused them to slip down to sixth place. None of the Wolverines posted a score under par and the team fell from second to sixth after a poor final five holes.
Coach Sapp hopes this tournament helps his young team learn to deal with the pressure of the final round better.
“We just have to go out there and do it in the final round,” Sapp said. “You just hope that you can go out there when the pressure’s on and take advantage and thrive under it.”
Kim said players making aggressive decisions down the stretch really cost them later on. As a leader on the team, Kim hopes to lead the younger players heading into the final tournaments of the year.
“I will make sure that I talk with them,” Kim said. “I will tell them that in these certain situations you might want to take the safe route rather than an aggressive line.”
More than that, both Sapp and Kim agree that it comes down to players putting too much pressure on themselves to perform in tight situations.
And with the Big Ten and NCAA Championships approaching, the Wolverines expect to use the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in two weeks to improve their play in pressure situations.
“Mostly I think these guys just need to be relaxed,” Kim said. “(They should) not put too much pressure on themselves to perform.”