Feb. 14, 2013
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Sun-Tue., Feb. 17-19-- at Puerto Rico Classic (Rio Grande, Puerto Rico)
Next on the Tee
The Tournament Field
Fresh off opening the spring season at the Big Ten Match Play Championship, the University of Michigan men's golf team will head to Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Sunday through Tuesday (Feb. 17-19) for the 2013 Puerto Rico Classic. The 54-hole tournament, featuring eight of the top 50 ranked programs and five of the nation's top 20 teams, will be played at the River Course at Rio Mar Country Club. The River Course will be set up for a par of 72 and 6,902 yards.
There will be 15 teams in the field for the 2013 Puerto Rico Classic: No. 5 Alabama, Augusta State, No. 19 Clemson, East Tennessee State, No. 11 Georgia, No. 10 Georgia Tech, Michigan, No. 30 North Carolina, North Carolina State, No. 31 Northwestern, Ohio State, No. 45 Oklahoma, Purdue, No. 17 SMU and Virginia Tech.
The Tournament Schedule
Saturday, Feb. 16 -- College-Am Event begins with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. AST
Sunday, Feb. 17 -- First Round (18) begins with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. AST
Monday, Feb. 18 -- Second Round (18) begins with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. AST
Tuesday, Feb. 19 -- Final Round (18) begins with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. AST
The Wolverine Lineup
Michigan will bring five starters to the 2013 Puerto Rico Classic, including senior Matt Alessi (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Birmingham Brother Rice), freshman Chris O'Neill (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run HS), freshman Brett McIntosh (London, Ontario, Canada/Saunders Secondary School), senior Miguel Echavarria (Medellin, Colombia/The Columbus School) and freshman Andrew Yeager (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central HS).
After two straight match play events, Michigan returns to a regular stroke-play format event at the Puerto Rico Classic. U-M played in four stroke-play events in the fall.
Michigan will be making its 11th straight appearance at the Puerto Rico Classic, hosted by Purdue. U-M recorded its best team finish with a sixth-place showing in 2008. Lion Kim has the top individual performance, tying for 10th in 2008 (76-68-69/213).
Michigan History at the Puerto Rico Classic
2003 -- 18th (328-319-313/960)
2004 -- 18th (319-302-301/922)
2005 -- 18th (300-307-320/927)
2006 -- 18th (305-297-304/906)
2007 -- 17th (304-303-297/904)
2008 -- 6th (291-287-292/870)
2009 -- t-9th (287-294-296/877)
2010 -- t-13th (293-288-295/876)
2011 -- 12th (300-302-286/888)
2012 -- t-13th (306-309-300/915)
Michigan will meet up once again with former coach Andrew Sapp, who is the current head coach at North Carolina. U-M coach Chris Whitten was Sapp's assistant from (2006-11). The Wolverines could also meet up with former Wolverine Joey Garber, who transferred to Georgia after his freshman season in Ann Arbor.
In Michigan's four stroke-play events the Wolverines have had an individual finish among the top 15. Brett McIntosh tied for third at the Inverness Intercollegiate, Chris O'Neill placed fifth at the Windon Memorial Classic and tied for 14th at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, and Noori Hyun (Seoul, Korea/Centreville HS [Va.]) finished eighth at the Fightin' Irish Gridiron Classic.
Chris O'Neill leads Michigan with a 73.75 per round average, while Miguel Echavarria is second at 75.33.
Matt Alessi, Miguel Echavarria, Noori Hyun, Chris O'Neill and Brett McIntosh have started all six events this season.
After joining the team as a walk-on last season, Matt Alessi will make his 18th consecutive start for Michigan. Captain Miguel Echavarria will also start his 18th straight (22nd career). Both players have yet to miss a start over the last two seasons.
Andrew Yeager will be making his first start in a stroke play event at the Puerto Rico Classic. He has two starts this season but they were are both match play events -- the Stanford Classic at Cypress Point and the Big Ten Match Play Championship.
Brett McIntosh, who hails from London, Ontario, Canada, is the Wolverines' only lefthanded golfer on the team. He is the first lefty to play for U-M since Kevin Dore (2004-07), who was from Dundas, Ontario.
Michigan has been selected for NCAA regional play the last five seasons, with four team selections preceding Matt Thompson's individual appearance last spring.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On what he sees as the biggest differences between high school and college golf ... "The biggest difference is probably in the practice routines. High school was way more laid back. Even though we were a pretty good program in high school, it was a lot more playing, and a lot more fun with the guys. Don't get me wrong, it's fun here, but it is just a lot more work, intense work at times. It's very detailed with our practices working on selected things."
On if the practices are paying off ... "I would do a lot of practice on my own over the summer like this. It is just so helpful to do practices like we have every day. I like the fact it is organized. I like that you feel a certain pressure to come in and keep working on the things you need to do to get better. I am a good putter, so I like to go putt. However, when you come here and the coaches say, 'Let's do some chipping' or 'Let's do some ball striking,' it helps you to work on the right areas, not just your comfort areas."
On how this team is playing and coming together ... "The biggest thing is taking everything we are doing in practice and just doing it in a tournament. It isn't that we cannot compete with other teams. It is just the fact we have not done it yet. We just haven't shown up the way I know that we can in tournaments. It's not something we need to work on. It's more of, when will it happen? And, it will happen. When it does happen we will then know how it happened, when it happened and know the vibes that it took to make it happen. Once we learn all of that, we can go back and keep applying what we learned to each tournament. This fall, we had so many good individual finishes from different guys. Everyone is capable of shooting well. We just need to start having three guys or four guys start having solid weeks and we can really show what we can do. I just feel we are right on the brink of that."
On starting at the Puerto Rico Classic and if he has any goals ... "I am so excited to go play. Every time I enter tournament I expect to play to the best of my ability and I expect to compete to win. I am not a guy that is going to go down there and be happy with playing one good round or even two rounds. I want to go down there and shoot whatever the leaders are shooting. I think that I can do that."
On something most people don't know about him ... "I have always been a big sports guy. I played basketball, baseball, football, soccer and golf growing up. So I was always doing something. It has been an interesting transition to only concentrate on just one now. Growing up the two biggest had to be baseball and basketball. I was a pitcher, catcher and third baseman. In football I was a quarterback and fullback, but I never played in high school because of the golf season switching."
On his favorite current MLB player ... "Justin Verlander. Love him."
On his all-time favorite MLB player ... "Babe Ruth. I read a biography on him and I just find his whole story of how he grew up as an orphan, went through Catholic schooling and made his way to the Major Leagues so fascinating. It is just a great story."
LAST TIME OUT (Feb. 8-9)
Michigan closed the 2013 Big Ten Match Play Championship with a seventh-place finish. Entering the event as the No. 9 seed, U-M defeated Minnesota in the first round (W, 3-2), before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Illinois in the quarterfinal (L, 4.5-0.5). Moving to the consolation bracket, U-M had a narrow defeat in the semifinals against No. 2 seed Northwestern (3.5-1.5) but claimed a win over No. 6 Purdue (3.5-1.5) to finish seventh. Matt Alessi led U-M with a 2-1-1 record during the event, while Miguel Echavarria went 2-1 and Chris O'Neill went 2-2. [ Day 1 Recap | Day 2 Recap ]
Wed-Thu., March 6-7 -- at Colleton River Collegiate (Hilton Head, S.C.)
Sun-Tue., March 24-26 -- at C&F Bank Intercollegiate (Williamsburg, Va.)
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423