Steve Bailey has some depth in his Marquette University men’s golf team. Mike Wilson has some fight in his University of Wisconsin team.
Now, both coaches must figure out how to maximize those strengths.
Those were the takeaways from the season-opening Marquette Intercollegiate at Erin Hills.
Texas A&M won the 17-team tournament, which concluded Tuesday, with an impressive three-round total of 32-under 832. South Florida finished second, four strokes back at 836, and Purdue was third at 838.
The host Golden Eagles finished 14th at 6-over 870 and the Badgers were 15th at 872.
“We saw a little bit of good,” said Bailey, whose team was runner-up in the Big East Championship in April. “It’s good to see some guys who aren’t in the starting lineup post some good numbers, too. This is the biggest team we’ve had in a while. We certainly have some depth. We’re looking forward to building that competition within this year.”
Freshman Max Lyons of Phoenix finished T-29 to lead the Golden Eagles. His three-round total of 2-under 214 included a second-round 67.
“Nice to see a freshman come in and step up,” said Bailey, in his 11th season at MU. “That round (Monday) really proved that he’s going to make a big impact in our program. His game is really, really steady in all facets. He’s going to push guys like Hunter (Eichhorn) and all the rest of those guys, that, hey, we’ve got to step our games up, especially knowing we’ve got a slew of guys who are ready to make an impact.”
Eichhorn, a redshirt senior from Carney, Mich., finished T-34 on steady rounds of 71-72-72.
Tyler Leach, a redshirt junior from Spring Valley, finished T-54 and MU’s two other scorers, redshirt sophomore Josh Robinson of Northern Ireland and redshirt junior Nicolas Evangelio of Spain, finished T-76 and T-81, respectively.
Five Golden Eagles played as individuals and two in particular stood out. Redshirt freshman Bhoom Sima-Aree of Thailand, back on campus after two years away because of the coronavirus pandemic, shot 72-70-74 and finished T-39. Freshman Patrick Adler of Winnetka, Ill., shot 73-72-72 and finished T-46.
Sima-Aree, whose length off the tee matches his first name (pronounced “Boom”), has bulked up and has gained even more distance.
“He’s hitting it a long way,” Bailey said. “The speed and the distance he’s hitting it, it’s another level. One hole in particular, No. 3, he hit it 340 into the wind to carry a fairway bunker. ... I look forward to him making an impact, in fact as early as our next event (the Gopher Invitational, Sept. 12-13 at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Maple Plain, Minn.).”
Wilson, the Badgers’ first-year coach, saw a couple of his players in action in August tournaments but hadn’t seen his entire team until the first day of practice Sept. 1.
Wisconsin got off to a rough start, playing the front nine in the first round in 16-over. But the Badgers bounced back to play the back nine in 1-under. In last place after the first round, they beat seven teams in the second round and seven in the third, shooting 7-under over the final 36 holes.
“I was really pleased with how we responded after a really bad first nine holes,” Wilson said. “I really didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t watched them play very much. But we have some talent and the guys, I think, are really buying into our message and enjoying playing some golf out there.
“If we had gotten that first round cleaned up a little bit, we probably could have come closer to finishing in the middle of the pack.”
Sophomore Cameron Huss of Kenosha and senior Griffin Barela of Lakewood, Colo., led the Badgers. Huss rebounded from a first-round 76 to post 69-68 and Barela shot 72-68-73. They tied for 22nd.
Junior Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., finished T-63 on rounds of 77-70-75.
“Cameron and Griffin played really well,” Wilson said. “Honestly, Robbie Morway (T-76) fought really hard. He’s battled injuries his whole career. And Coalter can play, as well. I think Coalter hit the ball well; he just didn’t putt that great. So, we’ve got those four, and then finding our fifth is going to be the key right now.”
Walker Lee of Texas A&M was the individual medalist at 14-under 202 on rounds of 66-67-69. Mats Ege of East Tennessee State finished one stroke back on rounds of 65-69-69.
Two Badgers played in a concurrent 36-hole individual tournament, hosted by Marquette, at Washington County Golf Course in Hartford. Senior Cameron Frazier of Cincinnati shot 74-66 and freshman Jacob Beckman of Middleton shot 77-68.
“We had two guys shoot in the 60s on Monday over at Washington County,” Wilson said. “So, I do think we have some depth. It’s just finding the right mix.”