With all five of its primary starters returning from last year, the Michigan men’s golf team came into this season looking to prove that it was ready to compete for a conference title.
The Wolverines’ first chance to prove themselves came this past weekend when they headed to Zionsville, Ind. to compete in the Wolf Run Intercollegiate.
The Wolverines were looking to improve on a fourth place finish last season at the Wolf Run. But this year, a disappointing final round left Michigan in ninth place with a final team score of 891 (294-294-303) — 32 strokes behind tournament champion Illinois.
“We were one of the favorites going into the tournament,” Michigan head coach Andrew Sapp said. “And to play on a golf course that we are very familiar with and have actually had success on before gave us a lot of confidence coming in. But obviously, we went backward today.”
The Wolverines found themselves in familiar territory after the first two rounds on Saturday, as they finished the first day tied for fourth with a 12-over 588.
Junior Matt Thompson led the way for Michigan with a 72-75 finish on Saturday, closely followed by senior Alex Sitompul’s 74-74 and senior Lion Kim’s 76-72.
The Wolverines were only ten strokes back from the Fighting Illini heading into the final round.
“We knew that we didn’t play well the first day, yet we still had a chance to move up and finish second or maybe even catch Illinois,” Sapp said.
But the hopes of catching the Fighting Illini quickly faded as the Wolverines seemed to mistake the rough for the fairway early and often during the final round. And on a difficult course like Wolf Run, inaccurate drives will come back to hurt you.
Sitompul was the lone Wolverine to post three consistent scores, as he finished 15th with a five-over 221. Even with the best individual finish on the team, Sitompul knows that he and his team still have a long way to go.
“I have a lot of stuff to work on,” Sitompul said. “As a team, we have to find a way to get better.”
“We’re going to have to go home and really work hard to prepare for the next tournament at Northwestern in two weekends,” Sapp said. “We didn’t get the job done today.”