ANN ARBOR – Playing against some of the nation’s top-ranked teams, including No. 14 Arkansas, Eastern Michigan men’s golf team hung strong Saturday and Sunday at The Wolverine tournament.
Eastern placed sixth, out of 14 teams, with a 5-over 869 (291-290-288) at Radrick Farms golf course. Host Michigan won with an 840 (277-278-285), and Arkansas was second with an 847 (278-288-281).
EMU achieved a customary tournament goal, too, by placing at least three golfers in the top 20, coach Bruce Cunningham said.
Brandon Lemons finished 16th with a 216 (72-74-70). Marty Jeppesen (74-71-72) and Brad Larente (73-73-71) both shot 217 and tied for 17th.
“In a field that is as stellar as this field, you have to be that methodical and that consistent over all 54 holes,” Cunningham said Sunday following the award ceremony.
“They did that. They kept their emotions in check and played each hole the way it was needed.”
The par-72 course is 6,979 yards and fairly open, especially on the front nine. There was moderate wind Sunday, but a regular foe that pestered players was the quick, undulating greens – not to mention the difficult pin placements typical of a final round.
“They were pretty tough,” Jeppesen said of the Sunday pins. “They had them on a lot of slopes. It’s the only thing that really protects this course, is if they set the flags so hard.”
Cunningham said the course “is a great test of golf,” and because of the difficulty of the greens and pins the golfers had to be precise in where they placed the ball on their approach shots in an attempt to set up easier putts.
He said one of the reasons his team didn’t place better was simply because it couldn’t put any really, really low rounds together only consistent ones, of which he repeatedly said he was proud of because it shows a mature team.
Cam Burke struggled Sunday and shot an 80. His score wasn’t used toward the team’s total as the highest gets thrown out. He finished tied for 52nd with a 225.
“Our number one man has a rough day, but we still were able to shoot 288,” Cunningham said.
“Anytime you can shoot even par without counting your number one man, it’s a great day,” he said. “And we need it.”
Jeppesen played an up-and-down final round that had five birdies, three bogies and a double. He made a rare birdie on the par-4, 429-yard 18th. He shot his second about 8 feet short of the hole and used his belly putter to make it from there.
The tournament was played at the U-M golf course last season. That course is directly across from Michigan Stadium, where there was a football game played Saturday, and is usually used for parking and tailgating, causing the tournament to be moved to Radrick Farms.