What teams are worthy of being called Michigan’s rival?
Ohio State certainly competes well in football. Wisconsin can hoop
it up with the best of the Big Ten basketball teams. And the Golden
Gophers of Minnesota can skate with the Wolverines in hockey games.
But in the world of men’s golf, Northwestern has proven to be
a formidable opponent in recent years.

This weekend, the Wolverines and Wildcats will face each other
for the second time this spring season. Northwestern was clearly
the dominant team at last month’s Puerto Rico Classic, when
it bested Michigan by 21 shots. However, the Wolverines have shown
significant signs of improvement in recent weeks.

“It’ll be good for us to play against them
(Northwestern),” coach Andrew Sapp said. “They are one
of the best teams in the Big Ten and have been for the past four or
five years.”

Two weeks ago at the General Jim Hackler Invitational in Myrtle
Beach, S.C., the Wolverines jumped four places on the final day of
competition to finish 14th out of 19 teams.

The comeback was led by senior Rob Tighe and freshman Kevin
Dore. Dore finished in a tie for 29th place, while Tighe finished
four shots behind his teammate, in a tie for 44th place. The
duo’s strong play resulted in Michigan’s tournament-low
team total of 299 strokes.

“We’re making baby steps,” Sapp said.
“We’re continuing to improve. Not at the accelerated
rate I’d like to see, but we are improving.”

Sapp noticed Tighe’s improved play while the team
practiced in Puerto Rico over Spring Break and decided to bring the
upperclassman to Myrtle Beach. Tighe, who was not in Sapp’s
original starting lineup, was able to qualify for the Myrtle Beach
Classic through a pre-tournament practice round.

“I’m glad (Tighe) did (qualify),” Sapp said.
“He played fairly well for us with a second-place finish on
the team in that event.”

Tighe earned a spot in the starting lineup this weekend, along
with Dore, sophomores Christian Vozza and Brandon Duff and freshman
Matt McLaughlin.

Sapp is also looking for continuing improvements in the
team’s cohesion.

“I think that team chemistry is definitely important as we
make our stretch run,” Sapp said. “This is our last
event before what I consider our Big Ten season.”

Following this weekend’s action, the men’s golf team
will compete at Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State. With its Big
Ten schedule, Michigan will have plenty of opportunities to tame
the Wildcats before coming back to Ann Arbor for the Big Ten
Championship in May.

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