Wolverines stumble in season debut
After a rough first round at the East & West Match Play on Sunday morning, the Michigan women’s golf team was in last place with a score of 301. However, senior Emily White shot a 69 — three under par — in the second round later that day to lead the Wolverines, recovering from her initial round of 75.
But unlike White, who finished the stroke play competition tied for seventh, the Wolverines failed to rebound. At the end of Sunday’s stroke play, despite a second round score of 290, Michigan sat in fifth place — only one position shy of the four-team championship bracket, won by Iowa State.
“Our second round was the second lowest of the afternoon rounds on Sunday, so that was a good comeback,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling. “We didn’t start very well on our first 18 on Sunday for the 36 hole stroke play portion. They came back really well and made a run to get into the top four for the match play part.”
The format for the event was quite different than other tournaments. It was a three-day event, comprised of stroke play Sunday and championship and consolation match play brackets on Monday and Tuesday.
Throughout the weekend, the Wolverines came up just short of victories as a team. Entering the consolation bracket as the first seed, Michigan faced Oregon State on Monday. Freshman Ashley Kim — in her college debut — and junior Elodie Van Dievoet both won their matches, up by six with four holes left and two-up respectively, and Michigan was tied at two with the Beavers.
Senior Megan Kim, Ashley Kim’s older sister, was all square in her match through 18 holes and had to play extra holes. She ended up losing on the 21st hole when her competitor birdied, giving Oregon State a 3-2 victory.
“The other girl won it, and you got to give her credit,” Dowling said. “She made the birdie when she had to, so we were certainly outplayed.”
On Tuesday, Michigan faced Nebraska in a battle for seventh place. Megan Kim and White both won their matches, up by three with two left and up by three with one left respectively, thus securing two points for the team, while the Cornhuskers won two points of their own.
In the deciding match’s 18th hole, Van Dievoet’s opponent, senior Audrey Judd, converted on a clutch birdie attempt. The Wolverines lost 2-3, finishing the bracket in last place.
“All of our matches were really close,” Dowling said. “They were competitive matches — a lot of birdies were made — but unfortunately we got outplayed in those matches.”
Senior Kathy Lim represented Michigan in the individual match play portion of the tournament, after topping the field in 2015. Lim advanced to the finals, looking to claim her second title, but fell just shy and lost by one hole. That was the general trend for the Wolverines — just shy.
There are still positive takeaways from the tournament for Michigan. Ashley Kim found success in her college debut, carding rounds of 76 and 73 to tie for 21st during the stroke play competition, winning a point in match play.
“Both our assistant coach and I were really impressed with her. She doesn’t get rattled very easily,” Dowling said. “She is a very calm person, and she has got a quiet confidence.”
Dowling also mentioned that having sisters on the team certainly helps with the overall team chemistry. She mentioned that the younger Kim sister was already quite familiar with the program when she arrived.
“For me as a coach, it has probably been the smoothest freshman transition I’ve ever experienced,” Dowling said. “Although she is a freshman on our team, she is someone they have known for a while already, so that has been really nice.”
Michigan needs to make some changes but must do so quickly. Next Monday they travel to Vail, Colo. for the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
“It certainly wasn’t what we were expecting or hoping for, but at the same time we know exactly what we need to work on,” Dowling said. “We’ll make a couple minor adjustments, build off the positives and go from there.”