Elodie Van Dievoet teed off Sunday morning knowing that it could be her last time as a Wolverine.
The Michigan women’s golf team was a long shot to make the NCAA Tournament, needing to win the Big Ten Championships to do so. But Van Dievoet still had a chance to finish her career on a high note.
Two years ago at the very same location — TPC River’s Bend in Maineville, Ohio — Van Dievoet secured her place in the record books by earning the program’s first-ever individual conference title. On Friday and Sunday, she shot a 142 for two under par and finished tied for fifth.
“She’s got a lot of good, positive memories from this place and loves playing here,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling. “ … She went into this tournament with the possibility that this is her last tournament ever for Michigan women’s golf. So that’s kind of a tough place to be and really proud of her to kinda get really tough — and she had a low score — and finish with a bang. So we’re proud of her round today. It showed character.”
Led by Van Dievoet and freshman Ashley Lau — who shot a 145 to finish tied for 11th — the Wolverines finished seventh of 14 teams with a total of 583, seven over par, in the weather-shortened tournament. They ultimately fell short of the finish required to qualify for NCAA Regionals.
On Friday, cold and rainy conditions slowed everything down, with all teams at least three over par. Michigan sat tied for sixth at the end of the day, just seven shots behind first-place Illinois.
But Saturday, it was colder and rainier, rendering the course unplayable. The Wolverines waited and waited as tee times were pushed back further and further, playing cards and doing homework to pass the time. Ultimately, the second round was canceled altogether, and Michigan instead got in some practice time before dinner with the players’ families.
While the canceled second round provided some advantage in that it meant fewer holes for a team like the Fighting Illini to gain separation, it was also one fewer round in the Wolverines’ season.
“It’s not ideal,” Dowling said. “We want to be playing 54 holes, but that was the scenario that was given to us. So we tried to make the most of it.”
The cancellation did afford Michigan one thing. It spurred the Wolverines to adopt an aggressive, chase-down-the-leaders mindset Sunday, knowing that there was only one day to play catch up, instead of two.
Ultimately, it made little difference for the team as a whole, which finished three under par on Sunday to cement its spot in the middle of the pack. But for Van Dievoet, it paid off.
Sitting in just 14th on Friday, Van Dievoet came out Sunday and birdied five of 18 holes. She crept up the leaderboard with each passing turn, at one point sitting in third before a bogey on the 16th hole landed her just off the podium. She shot a 68 in the second round, the third-lowest score of the day.
Junior Alisa Snyder and freshman Sophia Trombetta also improved their standings Sunday. Snyder shot a 73 to finish four over par for the weekend, good enough for 24th place. Trombetta, meanwhile, shot a 72 to shoot up from 41st after one day to 33rd after two.
Though Trombetta and Snyder punched above their weights, what ultimately held the Wolverines back was the struggles of sophomore Ashley Kim. Kim, who recorded the second-lowest score in program history as a freshman, never got into a groove, hitting a few loose iron shots and putting well below her standards. She shot 76 on Friday and 77 on Sunday and tied for 56th, the lowest-placing Michigan golfer.
Van Dievoet and Lau dazzled — with Lau’s body of work likely enough to qualify her for NCAA Regionals. But ultimately, their performances were merely bright spots in an otherwise disappointing finish for the team.
“Teeing off this morning, we had a chance to win the golf tournament and that’s what we wanted to do,” Dowling said. “And there’s only — that was a pretty tall task. … We knew what we needed to do and didn’t quite cut it.”