Feb. 5, 2013
Next on the Tee
The University of Michigan men's golf team returns to action after the winter break and will head to Bradenton, Fla., Friday and Saturday (Feb. 8-9) for the 2013 Big Ten Match Play Championship. This year the conference match-play event will be played at the Concession Golf Club by all 12 Big Ten schools. The event marks the fifth year the Big Ten will emulate the NCAA Golf Championship format against its conference foes. Each Big Ten school will have a six-member team competing in match-play.
The Match Play Field/Seeding
All 12 Big Ten schools will be participating with seeding as follows: Illinois (#1), Northwestern (#2), Iowa (#3), Indiana (#4), Ohio State (#5), Purdue (#6), Michigan State (#7), Minnesota (#8), Michigan (#9), Penn State (#10), Nebraska (#11) and Wisconsin (#12).
The Match Play Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 7
Opening Ceremony and Practice Rounds
Friday, Feb. 8
U-M Match 1: vs. #8 Minnesota, 7:30 a.m. (No. 1 tee)
U-M Match 2: (win Match 1) vs. #1 Illinois, Noon (No. 1 tee)
U-M Match 2: (lose Match 1) vs. loser of #7 Michigan State/#10 Penn State, 1:20 p.m. (No. 10 tee)
Saturday, Feb. 9
U-M Match 3: (win Match 1, win Match 2) semifinal, 7:30 a.m. (No. 1 tee)
U-M Match 3: (win Match 1, lose Match 2) consolation, 7:30 a.m. (No. 10 tee)
U-M Match 3: (lose Match 1) vs. loser of #6 Purdue/#11 Nebraska, 8:48 a.m. (No. 10 tee)
U-M Match 4: (win Match 1, 2 & 3), championship, 1:00 p.m. (No. 1 tee)
U-M Match 4: (win Match 1, win Match 2, lose Match 3), third place, 1:40 p.m. (No. 1 tee)
U-M Match 4: (win Match 1, lose Match 2, win Match 3), fifth place, 1:00 p.m. (No. 10 tee)
U-M Match 4: (win Match 1, lose Match 2, lose Match 3), consolation, 1:40 p.m. (No. 10 tee)
The Match Play Lineup
Playing for the Wolverines will be freshman Chris O'Neill (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run HS), senior Miguel Echavarria (Medellin, Columbia/The Columbus School), senior Matt Alessi (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Birmingham Brother Rice), freshman Brett McIntosh (London, Ontario, Canada/Saunders Secondary School), sophomore Noori Hyun (Seoul, Korea/Centreville HS [Va.]) and freshman Andrew Yeager (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central HS).
Recapping the 2012 Big Ten Match Play Championship
Despite darkness cancelling one match, Michigan closed with a 1-1 record at the 2012 Big Ten Match Play Championship. Entering as the ninth season, U-M dropped its opening match to eighth seed Minnesota, 4.5-1.5. The Wolverines roared back in the consolation, defeating 11th seed Wisconsin, 5-1. With Miguel Echavarria's 2-0 record leading the way, Michigan has had at least one Wolverine go undefeated in each of the conference's match play event. Other records included Jack Schultz (1-0-1), Matt Thompson (1-1), Matt Alessi (1-1), Noori Hyun (1-1) and Matt Felsenfeld (0-2).
Michigan closed its fall season with a match-play event at the Stanford Classic. Now, U-M will open with the fourth annual Big Ten Match Play Championship.
U-M has posted a top-15 individual finisher in each of the first four events this season -- Brett McIntosh (tie-3rd, Inverness Intercollegiate), Chris O'Neill (tie-5th, Windon Memorial Classic and tie-14th at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational) and Noori Hyun (eighth, Fightin' Irish Gridiron Classic).
Using career-best rounds of 69 (-2), 70 (1) and 71 (E), Chris O'Neill set a career-best 54-hole tournament total with his three-under 210 at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational. That total is the lowest by a freshman since Joey Garber posted a four-under 209 in the 2011 NCAA Central Regional -- a span of 16 tournaments. Following his performance, O'Neill was named the Big Ten Golfer of the Week. It is the first conference accolade of his career.
After walking on to the team last year, Matt Alessi will make his 17th consecutive start for Michigan. Captain Miguel Echavarria will also start his 17th straight (21st career). Both players have yet to miss a start over the last two seasons.
The Wolverines have used the same starting lineup in every event this season -- Chris O'Neill, Brett McIntosh, Matt Alessi, Miguel Echavarria and Noori Hyun. Freshman Andrew Yeager made his first career start at The Stanford Classic as U-M played in a six-player format.
Michigan set a season best for a 54-hole event with its 868 tally at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, topping U-M's previous best by 24 shots -- 892 at the Fightin' Irish Gridiron Classic. En route to the team's top 54-hole total, the Wolverines posted a season-best team total with a 286 in the second round.
Brett McIntosh, who hails from London, Ontario, Canada, is the Wolverines' only left-handed golfer on the team. He is the first lefty to play for U-M since Kevin Dore (2004-07), who was from Dundas, Ontario, Canada.
Michigan has been selected for NCAA regional play the last five seasons.
In the Spotlight
| Nick Pumford
On fighting the urge to get back out and play ... "Every single time I'm out there, just talking through shots with guys. You know, then they step back and I'm like, 'Dang, I want to do that.'"
On whether coaching at Michigan is everything he thought it would be ... "Yeah, absolutely, and then some. You know, obviously with the new building and so many resources that we have, it's pretty cool to be on the other end of the spectrum. Obviously, I had a great experience here, but then I can use that experience that I had to make it even better for our guys here. So it's definitely what I expected it to be."
On the impact of the winter offseason ... "It's been exciting. The guys have been working really hard at it. A lot of technique stuff, a lot of team competitions; the guys have been working really hard in the weight room, so we're excited to get out there. We play Minnesota in the first round, so we've been pushing that, and the guys are having a competitive mindset."
On the unique match-play format ... "Especially coming out of the winter, we play a pretty difficult golf course, so not to say that it's good that we're not posting a score but playing against other Big Ten teams who are in the same position as us. Coming out of the winter, shaking the rust off a little bit, then heading to Puerto Rico next week to play in our first stroke-play event. Match play is a great format to start off with."
On improving from the fall season ... "We've had three guys finish in the top 10 at three different tournaments, with two of them being freshmen, and we've had all three of our freshmen play in an event last fall, so the talent is there, the potential is there; it's just getting the guys playing together at the right time. They know they can go out and compete with any team in the country. The coaches know that, and it's just going out and doing it."
On the new facility and being the ping pong champion of the building ... "I would initially say that when we started I was the dominant one, but I'm going to suck up my pride and say that Chris O'Neill is number one right now, and I've taken a backseat, and I'm number two. That takes the bull's eye off my back and puts it on his back, so I'm just in the shadows, lurking, waiting to attack."
Last Time Out
Michigan fell to Texas (best ball), Georgia (foursomes) and Washington (singles) at The Stanford Classic. Sophomore Noori Hyun was the lone Wolverine to finish with a winning record in match play, as U-M struggled to an eighth-place finish. The event was hosted at the Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif. [ Recap ]
Recapping the 2011 Big Ten Match Play Championship
Michigan earned a first round bye for the third straight year at the 2011 Big Ten Match Play Championship, however closed fifth with a 2-1 record. After dropping its quarterfinal match to No. 4 Northwestern (5-1), the fifth-seeded Wolverines moved into the consolation bracket. U-M defeated No. 9 Minnesota (4-2) and followed with a win over No. 2 Iowa (3.5-2.5) to finish fifth. Joey Garber went a perfect 3-0 while Lion Kim closed 2-1. Other records during the event included: Alexander Sitompul (1-1-1), Matt Thompson (1-2), Jack Schultz (1-2) and Rahul Bakshi (0-3).
Recapping the 2010 Big Ten Match Play Championship
Michigan earned a first-round bye for the second straight year at the 2010 Big Ten Match Play Championship, however closed sixth with a 1-2 record. After dropping its opening match to No. 6 Northwestern (4-2), the third-seeded Wolverines rebounded with a down-to-the-wire 3.5-2.5 win over No. 7 Ohio State. The Wolverines closed with a 4.5-1.5 loss to No. 1 Illinois. Jack Schultz led U-M finishing undefeated with a 2-0-1 record, while Lion Kim closed 2-1. Other records during the event included: Alexander Sitompul (1-1-1), Matt Thompson (1-2), Rahul Bakshi (0-3) and Alex Frankel (0-3).
Recapping the 2009 Big Ten Match Play Championship
After knocking off top-seeded Illinois in the semifinal, the fourth-seeded Wolverines dropped a dramatic back-and-forth championship match to second-seeded Indiana to finish as the runner-up at the inaugural 2009 Big Ten Match Play Championship at the TPC of Heron Bay in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Matt Thompson led the way for the Wolverines after winning all three of his matches. Former Wolverine Bill Rankin earned three halves in his matches, including a key comeback half point to defeat Illinois. Other records during the event included: Ross Millman (2-1), Alexander Sitompul (1-1-1), Lion Kim (1-2) and former Wolverine Nick Pumford (1-2).
Sun-Tue., Feb. 17-19 -- at Puerto Rico Classic (Rio Grande, Puerto Rico)
Wed-Thu., Mar. 6-7 -- at Colleton River Collegiate (Hilton Head, S.C.)
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423