Week #3: Michigan to Travel to Duke for Rod Myers Invitational
Chris Whitten

Sept. 28, 2011

Sat-Sun., Oct. 1-2 -- at Rod Myers Invitational (Durham, N.C.)
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Next on the Tee
The University of Michigan men's golf team wastes little time getting back to the links, traveling to Durham, N.C., Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 1-2) for the 2011 Rod Myer Invitational at the Duke Golf Club. The event will have 11 teams in the field, playing 54 holes in the two-day tournament. Scoring will be five players; count the low four scores each round. The Duke Golf Club will be set up for a par 72 and 7,136 yards.

The tournament is played in honor of former long-time Duke head coach Rod Myers, who passed away in 2007 after a battle with an acute form of leukemia. Myers spent 34 seasons at the helm of the Blue Devils program.

The Tournament Field
There will be 11 schools participating in the Rod Myers Invitational: Baylor, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Duke, East Tennessee State, Georgia Southern, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Tulsa.

The Tournament Schedule
Friday, Sept. 30 -- Practice Round, tee times at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1 -- First Round (18), tee times at 8 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1 -- Second Round (18), continuous play after first round
Sunday, Oct. 2 -- Final Round (18), tee times at 8 a.m.

The Tournament First Day Pairings
No. 1 -- Individuals of Duke, Tennessee, North Carolina (7:51 a.m.)
No. 1 -- Duke, Tennessee, North Carolina (8:00 a.m.)
No. 1 -- Iowa, Tulsa, Charlotte (8:45 a.m.)
No. 10 -- Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Georgia Southern (7:55 a.m.)
No. 10 -- Michigan, Baylor, Individuals (Duke & North Carolina) (8:40 a.m.)

The Tournament Lineup
Traveling to Durham, N.C., for the Wolverines will be: senior Matt Thompson (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview HS), junior Miguel Echavarria (Medellin, Colombia/The Columbus School), junior Jack Schultz (Whitefish Bay, Wis./Whitefish Bay HS), junior Matt Alessi (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Birmingham Brother Rice) and freshman Noori Hyun (Seoul, Korea/Centreville HS [Va.]).

Last Year at the Rod Myers Invitational
Michigan makes a return trip to Durham, N.C., for the Rod Myers Invitational after finishing fourth in last year's event. Former Wolverine Lion Kim (2008-11) led U-M, tying for fifth, while Matt Thompson closed with a top-20 finish (tie-17th). Jack Schultz also played in the event, tying for 37th, as did Miguel Echavarria, who tied for 32nd as an individual. As a team, the Wolverines closed with a three-under 861 after rounds of 282, 293 and 280. Overall, U-M has three total appearances in Duke's home event -- fourth in 2011; 13th in 2004 and a withdrawal in 2001 after the team had to leave the event early for travel reasons.

The Mentor Meeting Part II
Michigan will meet up with former U-M coach Andrew Sapp's North Carolina Tar Heels for the second time this season. The two teams met in the season opening Wolverine Intercollegiate. Sapp, originally from Chapel Hill, N.C., took over his alma mater after having coached with the Wolverines for nine years (2003-11).

Making the Most of Opportunity
After being selected to the team following his walk-on tryout in early September, all Matt Alessi has done is start the first two events, lead the Wolverines in one of those events and prep for his third start this weekend -- at the Rod Myers Invitational. In his first career start -- at the Wolverine Intercollegiate -- he tied for 48th (78-74-75/227). In his second start, he tied for 17th (74) in the rain-shortened Inverness Intercollegiate.

20/20 for Thompson
With his tie for 17th finish at the rain-shortened Inverness Intercollegiate, Matt Thompson recorded his 20th career top-20 individual finish. Throughout his 39-event career, he has finished in the top 20 51.3 percent (20 of 39) of the time.

Setting New Standards Early
Miguel Echavarria tied a career best, posting a three-under 68 in second round at the Wolverine Intercollegiate. He equaled the 68 (-4) he fired in the second round of the 2010 Rod Myers Invitational. With the career-best round, Echavarria set a new career-best 54-hole tournament tally with a 214 (71-68-75), topping his previous best by seven shots, a 221 (79-68-74) at the 2010 Rod Myers Invitational.

New Head Man in Charge
After spending five years as an assistant coach, Chris Whitten takes the reins of the Wolverines in 2011-12. He replaces Andrew Sapp, who left to become the head coach at his alma mater, North Carolina. Whitten, who is just the ninth head coach in U-M history, was a finalist for the Jan Strickland Award, given to the top assistant coach in all NCAA divisions over the last two seasons. Throughout Whitten's tenure at U-M, the Wolverines have posted eight tournament wins and five individuals have won eight medalist honors. Michigan posted four straight NCAA regional bids and won the program's first team regional title at the 2011 NCAA Central Regional. Advancing to the NCAA Finals twice in the last three years, the Wolverines placed sixth to advance to team match play, closing with a semifinalist finish in 2009 while tying for 10th in 2011, missing match play by just three shots.

Regional Bids Keep Coming
Michigan has been selected to four straight NCAA regional appearances. U-M's 2010 selection marked its 34th NCAA postseason appearance and the program's sixth regional since the format changed to regional play in 1991. Overall, the Wolverines have participated in five central regionals (1997, 2000, '08, '10, '11) and one southwest regional (2009).

Michigan and the NCAA Regional
1997 -- Central (8th)
2000 -- Central (t-11th)
2008 -- Central (t-12th)
2009 -- Southwest (5th), advanced to NCAA Finals (match play semifinalist)
2010 -- Central (t-6th)
2011 -- Central (1st), advanced to NCAA Finals (tied for 10th)

Maize and Blue Jewel Selected for Regional
Michigan and U-M Golf Course have been selected as one of six regional host sites for the 2012 NCAA Regional Championships. The three-day, 54-hole event will run Thursday through Saturday, May 17-19, 2012. The U-M Golf Course, which has hosted a total of 11 conference championships, last hosted an NCAA event when the women's program played host to the 2007 NCAA Central Regional. The men's program has hosted NCAA events in 1996 with the NCAA Central Regional and in 1947 when the NCAA Finals were played at the U-M Golf Course.

Practice Facility Almost Completed
In July (2010), the U-M Board of Regents approved the schematic design of the new practice facility for the men's and women's golf programs. After starting construction last September, the building is near completion. Both teams are scheduled to move into the building in mid-to-late October. The $2.5 million, 10,000 gross-square-foot facility designed by Ann Arbor Architects Collaborative will be funded by athletic resources and gifts. The new building, set off South Main Street on the west side of the driving range of the U-M Golf Course, will provide space for functional training, meeting and practice for golf teams.

Sun-Mon., Oct. 16-17 -- at Windon Memorial Classic (Skokie, Ill.)
Sat-Sun., Oct. 29-30 -- at Bridgestone Intercollegiate (Greensboro, N.C.)

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423