Michigan men’s golf coach Andrew Sapp expects only one thing from his team each time it competes — win the tournament.
Lion Kim holds the same belief. And for a while, it seemed as though the senior was poised to take it all at the Fresno State Classic.
By the end of the first day of competition, Kim sat tied for fourth of 100 golfers, with No. 35 Michigan resting comfortably in seventh.
But that was the closest the Wolverines would come to taking home the crown. The team walked away from Sunnyside Golf Course in Fresno, Calif. on Tuesday afternoon disheartened and frustrated after faltering on the second day of competition to finish tied for 10th of 16 teams.
Kim led Michigan with an individual score of 218, but his efforts weren’t enough to lift the Wolverines, who were topped by winner No. 12 San Diego State by 52 strokes.
“Our goal was to win this tournament,” Sapp said. “We were one of three ranked teams in the field, but we played horribly.
“It’s a long season and it’s about progression. Unfortunately we took a step backwards this week.”
Sapp cited elementary mistakes sloppy putting, weak drives and general bad- decision making. At the end of the final round, five of Michigan’s six golfers were five-over or worse.
The 11th-place finish is only the most recent in a series of disappointing performances for the Wolverines on the road. The individuality of golf makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly in which areas the team needs the most improvement. The players compete as six different entities on the course, and none of them are aware of how their teammates are playing at any particular moment.
The most Michigan can do is clean up its playing style to eliminate unnecessary errors.
“We’re not competing close to what I believe we can play,” Kim said. “We’ll learn from this and try to get better. The mistakes we made this week definitely won’t happen again.”
The Wolverines now have three weeks to prepare for their next tournament in Baton Rouge. They will then face difficult competition in the Big Ten Championships — both Iowa and Illinois are currently ranked in the top 15.
“Our conference is pretty strong and every school in the Big Ten has improved,” Kim said. “We need to play like we know how to play.”