Amid the ashes of a season that ended Sunday amid bitter disappointment with a last-place showing at the Big Ten Conference Championship, University of Wisconsin men's golf coach Michael Burcin tried to find positives from his team's entire body of work during the 2018-19 season before focusing on what went wrong at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, Pa.
Among those that topped the list:
✓ The Badgers recorded the lowest stroke average in program history with its 292.97. According to the record book on the UW Website, that would top the mark of 293.22 set in 2004-05.
✓ Senior Jordan Hahn moved past former UW golfer Dan Woltman in single-season (71.59) and and career (72.91) scoring average.
✓ Griffin Barela finished his sophomore season with a 72.78 stroke average to move into fifth place on UW's all-time list behind Hahn (twice), Woltman and current volunteer assistant coach Garrett Jones.
✓ Recorded its second team victory in the last five seasons when it won the Pinetree Intercollegiate in October.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, that couldn't take much of the sting out of the program's second 14th-place Big Ten showing over the last four years.
Barela (72) and Hahn (73) led the way as they did all weekend and most of the season as UW shot its best round of the championship (297), but could not dislodge themselves from last place. At 77-over-par 917, the Badgers finished 49 shots behind champion Illinois and 15 shots out of 13th place.
"We felt we had a team talent-wise to win this week and, in stretches, we showed that this year," Burcin wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "We never could find the scoring in Nos. 3 through 5. Everyone has multiple rounds under par and then we would follow that up with rounds that hurt us."
A brutally tough layout at the Philadelphia Cricket Club didn't help, either.
In winning its fifth consecutive team title, Illinois' 868 winning total was the highest winning score by 30 strokes since the Big Ten returned to a 54-hole format for its conference championship. In addition, the 212 winning score of co-medalists Adrien Dumont de Chassart of Illinois and Angus Flanagan of Minnesota was the highest by a Big Ten medalist by six strokes.
"The golf course this week could have hosted a major and it really highlighted areas of players' game that weren't strong," Burcin wrote, "so it was extremely disappointing."
Burcin said he expects to see Hahn's name on the screen as an individual selection to the NCAA Division I Regionals when berths are announced Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. CT on Golf Channel. He thinks Barela has an outside chance of landing one of the 45 individual berths awarded to golfers who are not on the 81 teams advancing to NCAA regional competition.
If not, Burcin believes Barela will become the cornerstone of UW's lineup in much the same way that Hahn has been the last two years of a career in which the Spring Grove, Illinois, native played a remarkable 140 rounds.
"Griff is taking the baton nicely from Jordan and we actually had a young team after Jordan this year," wrote Burcin, who graduates only one other senior — Brett Robinson — and is expected to return the other eight golfers on the roster as well as incoming recruits Sebastian Iqbal of San Jose, California, and Coalter Smith of Grosse Point Farms, Michigan.
"With the two kids coming in, getting in the lineup will be very competitive," Burcin wrote. "So (we have) lots to be excited about and (we are) proud of what Jordan and Griff have done to elevate the program."