Christian Vozza’s confidence was riding high as the first-day leader at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in Fairfax, Calif.

That confidence slipped away during the final round when Vozza struggled with a shoulder injury that forced him to drop out of the tournament with three holes remaining.

The Michigan men’s golf team salvaged its strong showing despite the injury to finish in a tie for fourth in the 16-team field.

The team’s opening-round score of 275 – which tied a Michigan record – was built off of Vozza’s performance. The Traverse City native posted a two-round total of 132 and held the individual lead. Vozza’s day included a second-round 64, tying the Michigan single-round scoring record.

He completed the round by going 5-under on the last four holes.

Coming off of three straight pars, Vozza birdied the 15th hole and followed that with an eagle on the 16th. He finished the 7-under round with birdies on the final two holes.

“He had such an impressive first day,” coach Andrew Sapp said. “It was disappointing for Christian and the team that he was unable complete the tournament.”

The Wolverines that remained rallied to complete the final round with a respectable score of 295, giving Michigan a three-round total of 850.

Despite the disappointment of Vozza’s injury, Sapp was impressed with how his team bounced back from last week’s tough tournament in Memphis where the team finished in a lackluster tie for ninth in the 14-team field.

“The guys did a great job having selective memories and only focusing on the positives from last week,” Sapp said. “It was important for all five golfers to start this tournament well and gain confidence in the first round.”

Sophomore Brain Ottenweller was one of the golfers who played impressively, finishing in a tie for third overall.

Ottenweller joined in the record-setting act by posting a career-best 66 in the first round.

He attributed his and the team’s strong performance to the rest they had after last week.

“The day off from golf really helped me a lot,” the sophomore from Grand Rapids said. “I did some studying and didn’t think about golf all day. It helped me to focus more on my mechanics when we got back to the driving range on Thursday and Friday.”

It will be important for Ottenweller to follow up on his performance this week and lead the team if Vozza’s injury keeps him out of the final tournament of the fall, the 49er Collegiate Classic at the Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, N.C., Oct. 24-25.

“This tournament was great for building my confidence heading into the last tournament of the fall,” Ottenweller said. “It was important for me and the team to have bounced back and played well this week. Now, we know we are ready for the tough competition we will face in North Carolina.”

Ottenweller and his teammates hope to have the same balance of relaxation and confidence they had in California again next week. They’re confident that doing so will lead to a good close to their fall season.


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