It was a record-setting performance for the Michigan women’s golf team, which finished tied for fourth place at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown on Tuesday.
The Wolverines shot a school-record 275 (-13) in the first round, and junior Grace Choi soared in the second round — tying Ashley Bauer’s school-record mark of 65, set in 2010. Though significant in retrospect, Choi was hardly thinking about her individual triumphs during tournament play.
“I wasn’t thinking about that at all,” Choi said. “I was so in the moment, it was such a high. I wasn’t worried about breaking school records. … It was an incredible experience.”
Michigan played with a mental edge throughout the tournament, notching scores of 275, 279 and 281 in the three days, ultimately finishing nine strokes behind the champion, UNLV.
The tournament, the conclusion to the Wolverines’ successful fall season, followed a third-place finish at the Yale Intercollegiate two weeks ago.
“The team’s been gaining confidence throughout the fall,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling.
Some of the improvement can likely be attributed to Choi and senior Catherine Peters, the team’s only upperclassmen. Peters put up scores of 68, 68 and 69 en route to tying Choi for fifth in the individual standings this weekend. Yet beyond their golf skills, the two lead in ways that can’t be recorded on a scorecard.
“(Choi and Peters) both lead by example in so many ways,” Dowling said. “You couldn’t ask for better upperclassmen. They’re encouraging and positive, and really want to leave their mark on this program.”
In addition to influencing underclassmen, Choi and Peters have a great impact on each other on the golf course. After spending three years playing together and two years living with each other, the two friends have built a unique bond.
“She’s one of the most positive people I have ever met,” Choi said of Peters. “That’s something that I’m not as good at, so she just radiates all this really good energy.”
Teamwork and cooperation have long been building blocks of Dowling’s model for winning tournaments and improving as a unit. After a strong fall season, Michigan will look to continue getting better before returning to tournament play in February.
The Wolverines expect to work primarily on strength and conditioning, while also studying individual tendencies to identify strengths and weaknesses.
“We stay pretty busy (during the winter),” Dowling said. “We really take advantage of those months to (review) the season a little bit better.”
Michigan plans to remember the record-setting weekend for the time being, but knows it still has plenty to prepare for.