"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
During the summer it was suggested that I contribute some diaries about the golf teams. The fall has just finished up for the men’s team so I thought it would be a good time to give everyone an update.
To start, I wanted to offer an explanation of how college golf actually works for those who might not know - for the ones that do, I apologize for being redundant. The typical college golf tournament features 10 to 15 teams competing over the course of 54 holes with each team starting only 5 golfers. In each of the 3 rounds the team counts the best 4 scores of the 5 players. Here is a leaderboard from the last event that the men’s team played in: http://www.golfstatresults.com//public/leaderboards/team/static/team2068.html
As you can see, Michigan finished 4th with rounds of 279, 275 and 289 for a total of 843. If you click on “Michigan” it links to the 3rd round scorecards of each of the players. In this particular event, Miguel’s scores were dropped in each of the 3 rounds – shown by the chart at the top of the page.
Big Ten championships and NCAA Regionals/Finals are played in the spring for college golf. Similar to basketball, the winner of the Big Ten Championship is awarded a spot in NCAA Regionals. Besides the automatic qualifiers, to be selected for NCAA regionals a team must finish with a ranking around 60th or better in the nation and have a record of better than .500. Golf team’s do not play matches against individual teams throughout the year, instead all competition is conducted in the form of the tournaments described above. Going back to the tournament page I linked above, Michigan’s “record” is obtained by beating the teams in each tournament. Michigan was +7 in that tournament after beating 10 teams and losing to 3. The team ranking is currently 30th in the nation which is affected by their overall record as well as their record against teams in the Top 25/50.
In the 5 events in the fall, the men’s team compiled a record of 48-18-1, leaving them 30 wins above 500. After a slow start in the first event (9th), the team finished with 1 tournament victory and a total of 4 top-5 finishes.
One of the most representative stats for a college golf team is the number of Top-20 individual finishes for a team. To win tournaments you do not have to have the individual champion, but rather 3 or 4 solid performances. As a team Michigan had 11 Top-20 finishes this fall and 4 of those came during the team victory in the Windon Memorial Classic.
The fall season was solid, not spectacular, but solid. The foundation of this team is based on 3 guys: Lion Kim (Sr), Matt Thompson (Jr) and Jack Schultz (So). Lion came off a solid summer which included a win at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links and earned his first individual tournament win of his college career ( http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/um-golf-lion-kim-wins-us-amateur-pub-links ). Matt has maintained his solid play since he was part of the 3rd place '08/09 team as a freshman. And Jack, after earning himself Big Ten Freshman of the year in 2009, has been playing well this fall too.
At the beginning of the year I would have said Joey Garber (Fr) and Alexander Sitompul (Sr) were going to be the wild cards this year. That has proven pretty accurate as Sitompul went from leading the team in the first event to not starting the last two events of the fall. I had the opportunity to play with him for two years and I can honestly say I have never seen anyone with more potential. He is a physical freak and mentally equipped for pressure but he hasn’t been able to consistently contribute. Joey, on the other hand, has lived up to his recruiting hype (http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/um-golf-commit-joey-garber-wins-michigan-amateur ) and has been impressive since his first event including a 2nd place finish in the Bank of Tennesse Intercollegiate.
The issue that could really hurt this team going forward is depth. Lion, Matt, Jack and Joey have pretty much solidified their spots in the first 4 positions but there is a hole in the 5 spot. The most likely person to fill that hole by the end of the year is Alexander Sitompul. He is experienced and when he is playing well he is the best player on the team. Rahul Bakshi (So) and Miguel Echavarria (So) will also be in the mix throughout the spring but the team is thus vulnerable if one of the top 4 fall to injury, sickness, ineligibility, or just a slump. None of which are extremely likely, but it is not out of the realm of possibility and has happened before.
The golf team is now in the offseason until returning February 11th for the Big Ten Match Play tournament in Florida.