NCCGA title brings veteran Michigan team full circle

Michigan won the first NCCGA national title in program history on Nov. 17.

Michigan won the first NCCGA national title in program history on Nov. 17.

Less than 24 hours after its maiden national title, Michigan’s club golf team was suddenly divided by hundreds of miles. Four players piled in a car after Sunday’s NCCGA Fall National Championship victory, but four more stayed behind in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Something says there’s more celebration to come.

After a 15-hour drive and a 10 a.m. class, senior Jake Troyer revealed Michigan’s secret. It’s in a solid core of seniors, but also in the entire team mindset.

“This semester, we were able to come together as a team a lot more,” Troyer said in a voice that expressed both fatigue and elation.

Michigan has come close to national glory before, but never has left with the trophy. Last spring, when the national championship was played at Purdue’s Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Ind., Michigan finished the first round in second only to drop down the leaderboard by tournament’s end.

The Wolverines like to lead, not chase, and so built a five-shot lead in Saturday’s first round. Michigan played the easier Love course at Barefoot Resort, and posted 17-over 377 (NCCGA tournaments are a play eight, count five format). After Day 1, they were five shots ahead of Campbell while Baylor and Virginia were each another shot back.

“We were right where we wanted to be,” Troyer said.

As the second round began, Michigan drew the more difficult Dye track while chasers Baylor and Campbell switched to the Love. Michigan players knew they needed to post a number, and Troyer led the charge with 3-over 75, the team’s low final-round score. Junior Pat Colburn, Michigan’s leading scorer, contributed 77. At 7-over 149 for the tournament, Colburn was part of a six-way tie for second, one shot off the pace.

Michigan counted two other rounds of 77, and then there was senior Trevor Grigg, who came in with a final-round 76. Grigg opened with five consecutive bogeys, but played the next 13 holes in 1 under. It was the kind of resolve Michigan needed.

Michigan not only won its first national title in the team’s four years of existence, but became the first cold-weather school to take home NCCGA hardware. As Grigg pointed out, it can be tough lining up against mostly warm-weather schools.

The drive was so long that Michigan didn’t arrive in Myrtle Beach until 2 a.m. on Saturday morning. A few hours later, they had started the championship cold, without a look at either of Barefoot’s two courses.

“We brought down a pretty deep team so we were pretty good,” Grigg said.

Grigg is among the original players who began Michigan’s club program four years ago. Classmate Troyer is in his second year with the team. Michigan has become the team to beat in the Midwest region after winning both of its regional qualifiers for the fall national championship. In Myrtle Beach, however, it was something different.

“It’s a cool feeling being a national champion,” Troyer said.

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