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April 05, 2005 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-05

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 5, 2005 - 13

Junior Christian Vozza has golfed well, but Michigan, as a team this season, has not.
Blue struggling
with consistency

Wolverines excited
about playing on
home golf course
By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
In one month from now, the No. 24 Michigan women's golf team will
become the third Michigan team to host the Big Ten Championships in
Ann Arbor this year. Ideally, the Wolverines should know every bunker,
uneven green and narrow fairway of their course like the back of their
hand. But because of weather constraints, the team hasn't played the
course since last year.
"Let's be realistic - we can't even get on our own golf course yet," coach Kathy
Teichert said. "We haven't be able to hit balls outside on real grass yet, and we haven't
been able to put off of a real surface. So the sooner we get on our course, the better."
With the threat of losing on their home soil, the Wolverines are looking forward to
practicing on their own course. At the same time, they will work on basic shots that they
were unable to practice while training indoors.
"We've been playing really well - especially since we haven't been playing outside
a lot" senior Laura Olin said. "I think we are going to improve on those expectations in
the weeks to come once we are able to play outside more."
When they travel to warmer climates for tournaments, the Wolverines have used
every opportunity possible to practice. Michigan has participated in four events in the
last month, capitalizing on its course time to work on its wedge shots - something that
is hard to practice indoors.
"We are looking toward working on our short game because we aren't able to do
that," Olin said. "We really need to get practice on our home course so that we can play
well at Big Tens, and, as long as we work hard, we could probably win Big Tens."
In order to ensure success at the Big Ten Championships, the Wolverines must
perfect their play on the Alister MacKenzie designed course to milk the home-
course advantage - which is always important in golf - for everything it's
worth. While the team is led by Olin, who has three years of experience on
Michigan's course, it's freshmen - who have only been playing on the course
for a few months - don't quite know the course as well as they should, largely
due to the inclement weather.
"We are going to be honing in on playing our own golf course," Teichert said. "We
need to play our course as much as we can so that we can figure out how the course is
going to play for Big Tens. We need to figure out exactly what irons to use on all of the
MEN'S GYMNASTICS

By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer

Many a player and coach have said,
"It's not the way you start, rather it's
the way you finish."
The Michigan men's golf team can
take solace in this statement because
the start of their spring season has
gone about as bad as one could pos-
sibly imagine. So far, the Wolverines
have finished in the top half of the
tournament field just once.
Previously, Michigan had been
pointing to the Furman Invitational
as the starting point for its revival.
In last season's Furman Invitational,
the Wolverines turned their season
around with an impressive third-place
showing. But, their performance this
year wasn't what they were looking
for. Only one Michigan golfer, junior
Christian Vozza, finished in the top-
20 individually, and the team finished
11th overall.
Michigan's main problem has been
consistency. Individuals have been able
to shoot some good rounds of golf, but
they have been unable to string these
good rounds together for a whole tour-
nament. Despite finishing 20th in the
Furman Invitational, Vozza's play is a
perfect example of this inconsistency.
After starting the tournament with an
impressive 69, he faltered in the sec-
ond and third rounds posting scores of
77 and 74, respectively.
"I am just not playing consistent
golf," Vozza said. "It just seems like I
have spurts where I am hitting the ball
well and then there are those other
times when I just do not have a good
feel."
Those problems from round to
round indicate a larger concern for
the Wolverines. The coaching staff
believes that it is not necessarily a
physical issue, and have rather begun

focusing on the mental aspect of the
game.
"We've been meeting with a few of
the guys on an individual basis to dis-
cuss their mental toughness through-
out tournaments," Michigan coach
Andrew Sapp said. "We are really try-
ing to get them to work better on their
preparation."
Part of this consistency issue can be
blamed on the harsh Michigan winter.
While teams from warmer climates
are able to practice outside on actu-
al golf courses, the Wolverines are
forced to practice indoors at a driving
range.
"We've got a fragile confidence
right now," Sapp said. "We haven't
been able to play as many rounds as
we would have liked - due to the
weather. I think our confidence will
rise now that we're getting some bet-
ter weather."
Because of their inability to prac-
tice outdoors, the Wolverines have
felt added pressure when playing in
tournaments. These tournaments rep-
resent the only time they get to play on
a regular golf course.
"There really has been a lot of pres-
sure, at least competitive pressure,
all the time and every round we have
played in the spring," Vozza said. "Once
we get out there on the course - hope-
fully soon - and get a couple of rounds
under our belts without that loaded
pressure each time we tee it up, that will
definitely help us out and even help get
us back into a groove a little bit."
After the disappointing 11th place
finish last weekend, the Wolverines
have three weeks off until they tee
off in the Boilermaker Invitational on
April 16. As the Ann Arbor weather
improves, Michigan will finally be
able to practice on its own golf course.
The Wolverines are hoping this time
off will jumpstart their season.

F "IL"PHOTO
Junior Brandi Zielinski and the rest of the women's golf team have been training
indoors due to the harsh Michigan weather.
holes, so, when the Big Ten Championships start, we'll be ready."
In addition to preparing them physically, Teichert is mentally conditioning the team
to maintain a positive mindset in between holes so that they don't carry a poor shot with
them for the entire tournament.
"We have to go into every tournament expecting to win and playing to win," Teichert
said. "That is the only way that we can mentally prepare ourselves for everything, not
for the smaller tournaments but for the long haul, which includes the Big Ten Champi-
onships in a month. We are looking forward to winning the Big Tens, and, to do that,
we have to prepare ourselves as much as we possibly can."

M) preparing for NCAA Championships

By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer

At the Big Ten Championships
two weeks ago, the No. 4 Michigan
men's gymnastics team struggled to
successfully dismount on 17 of its
36 routines. The Wolverines were
just unable to find their balance once
their feet hit the mat.
"We have to work on our dis-
mounts," senior Eddie Umphrey said.
"We did great routines, and then we
gave it all away on our dismounts.
That's just embarrassing. You give the
entire routine away on a dismount. We
are going to get back in the gym and
work on our dismounts and work hard
so that we can win a national champi-
onship."
The Wolverines have had exactly
seven days of practice to prove just
how high their learning curve is
before they head out to West Point,
N.Y., for the NCAA Championships
on Thursday. In that time, Michigan

coach Kurt Golder has used the third-
place finish at the Big Ten Champion-
ships to motivate the team to focus on
the little things during its training. As
the team has seen, it's the little things
that determine who stands on the top
of the podium and walks out with the
trophy. But Golder won't likely have
to work too hard. The team is eager
to redeem itself after its low stick per-
centage at Big Tens.
"We're really going to try to get
more competitive within the team
and get each other to work harder,"
junior Andre Hernandez said. "We
are going to work on staying more
focused, and (we're going to) crack
down on perfecting all of our skills
and routines and just being perfect
because that's what matters at nation-
als. Every tenth counts."
And it was that low stick percentage
that prohibited the Wolverines from

defending their home turf. While No.
1 Ohio State was landing the major-
ity of its routines, the Wolverines were
struggling not to pull a Paul Hamm
and fall into the judges' table. Despite
their well performed exercises, many
of the Wolverines ruined their entire
routines on the dismounts, losing at
times up to seven-tenths of a point.
"When we hit our routines in com-
petition, we usually have a pretty
high stick percentage," Golder said.
"However, to win a big competition,
you really have to be on, and we just
weren't. We showed ourselves that we
were good enough that we could have
won, but we just couldn't finish strong.
And that killed us."
At times, the Wolverines strug-
gled to maintain form, failing to
point their toes and hold strengths
long enough while quickly moving
from one position to the next. All

of these little slip-ups caused point
deductions and took away from what
could have been near-perfect rou-
tines. While Michigan recognized
its past shortcomings, the question is
whether it will seize this opportuni-
ty to fine tune and ultimately perfect
its routines or instead wait until next
year. Golder is ready to make sure
his team realizes the time is now
and, come Sunday, will be ready to
hoist up the NCAA trophy.
"We have seven days of prepara-
tion, and we have to work together
as a team," Golder said. "We have to
work on our landings and work for
perfection. If they take everything
that I talk about seriously for the next
seven days it will make a tremendous
difference, and, if they don't, we are
just going to go (to NCAAs) and
compete like so-so. And I know they
don't want that."

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