May 1, 2014
Now in his third season at the helm in Ann Arbor, head coach Chris Whitten is no stranger to the postseason chase. He and the rest of the Maize and Blue are feeling confident and prepared heading into this weekend's conference championships at the challenging Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. They're also feeling well rested coming off a two-week break from play and eager to get a shot at the Big Ten Championship after winning the conference match play tournament earlier this spring. Before leaving for the weekend, Coach Whitten spoke with MGoBlue.com for this week's spotlight segment.
On where the team is mentally and how they are approaching this weekend ... "I think the guys are really excited to play, just based the quality of our practices and the concentration level. The guys are definitely dialed in and well-prepared and we have a lot to play for this week so I think they'll be ready to go for sure."
On what the early spring's match play championship adds to the team's confidence in this event ... "The match play was great, and doing it again other Big Ten teams definitely helps but I think really, our steady progression through the spring (helps more). Guys have shown improvement and we've continued to climb in the rankings through almost every event in the spring. I think they can pull some confidence from all the work they've done over a long period of time now."
On tough lineup decisions and confidence with this weekend's group ... "Chris has been one of our lowest scorers all year and played great at the Big Ten Championship last year, as did Brett. Obviously Brett is coming off an individual win so his confidence should be very high. I'd have to look at the numbers, but I think Noori has been our best player by score through the spring events, and he's improved so much. Reed and Andrew Yeager are going to round out the lineup based on their tournament play and their qualifying (round) at home. Really everyone on the team has worked extremely hard this year, so the lineup decisions are tough but I really would feel confident putting just about anybody in with an opportunity to go play and those two guys just happened to earn it."
On what to expect from the Pete Dye course ... "The course is a really good test, which is good for us. I think it separates the great teams from the good teams and hopefully that plays into our favor. It definitely takes a little bit of local knowledge, so having been there the last two years will help us, but really it just comes down to executing, keeping things simple and keeping your confidence high. Otherwise it's just golf, just like it is anywhere else."
Previous Spotlight: Andrew Yeager