Entering his fourth season as head coach -- and ninth overall -- of the Michigan men's golf program, Chris Whitten is ready to guide his still young but experienced Wolverines into the 2014-15 season. A core returning group of seven players and the addition of one newcomer, Whitten's squad look to build on a strong summer into the fall season. With a 10-tournament regular season beginning with hosting the Wolverine Intercollegiate at the U-M Golf Course this weekend, Whitten took a few minutes from practice to talk with MGoBlue.com's spotlight segment.
On the excitement of getting the 2014-15 season started at home in Ann Arbor ... "We don't get to host a home event every year, but when we do it's always special. It gives us a nice advantage and hopefully some good momentum to start the year with, being our first event. The schedule is on us right away this year, as we are playing the very first three weeks. I don't know that we've done that before, and I wouldn't want to do that as a coach unless I had a mature group coming back that I was confident in, and we do this year."
On the maturity and experience of the group coming back ... "The guys are a tight group. We've got a lot of experience at this point; they've all played in big events. I know that they want to play the best competition they can individually, and I think our schedule sets them up to do that this year. It's a great opportunity. I've got a lot of confidence in them; they've had great summers, and I know we'll be ready to go."
On learning from last season ... "It was a long summer for sure. It wasn't the way we wanted to end (last year), but it's been motivation for the guys over the summer. We know we have a lot to prove, and I think that we will do it this year."
On Chris O'Neill and Brett McIntosh setting the pace ... "Chris has led the team from a scoring perspective in each of his first two years. He works really hard to be able to shoot the scores that he does. I keep looking for all the guys to make jumps every single year, and Chris is looking to jump from second team All-Big Ten to something more than that if he can. Brett still has parts of his game that can be improved, which is exciting for him. What we're looking for is consistently high finishes and great depth from the lineup together."
On the way he spent his summer ... "Michigan is the place to be in the summer. You really don't need to leave the state of Michigan this time of year, so getting to Northern Michigan with our family, having my parents in town from Florida to spend time, which was great. Getting that quality time with the family was awesome."
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423