Sunday through Tuesday, the Michigan women’s golf team hosted its season opener at one of the team’s two home courses — Radrick Farms Golf Course. At times, it appeared the Wolverines had the home field advantage.
During Monday’s match play round, Michigan was tied with Texas A&M with only one group still on the course.
Luckily for the Wolverines, sophomore Ashley Kim was in that final group. Despite trailing by one hole with four left to play, she notched a par and then three consecutive birdies to win her match by two holes and help Michigan defeat the Aggies, 3-2.
Overall, though, the Wolverines’ performance was mediocre and the team finished the three-day East & West Match Play Challenge in sixth place. UC Davis won the tournament by default, because its final round opponent, Iowa State, withdrew from the field.
On Sunday, the eight teams present competed in 36 holes of stroke play to determine seeding for the ensuing match play tournament. The top four teams from stroke play qualified for a championship bracket while the bottom competed in a consolation bracket. Each round of the match play brackets consisted of 18 holes, with the semifinals and finals on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
Michigan had a rocky stroke-play performance. Over the first 18 holes, the Wolverines’ score of 301 put them in seventh place, and although they made big strides the second time around with a score of a 290, it wasn’t enough. Michigan stayed in seventh place.
“We kinda kicked ourselves in the foot a little bit in that first round but recovered very nicely,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling. “I’d say ball-striking contributed to the change.”
Kim’s performance was the highlight of the stroke play competition. She carded scores of 73 and 72 to tie for eighth place.
“She’s very determined to have a great season, and she was ready to go in that first tournament,” Dowling said. “She took her preparation very seriously and she’s looking forward to the rest of our tournaments.”
Freshmen Ashley Lau and junior Alisa Snyder had stellar second round scores of 71 and 72. They finished stroke play in 17th and 23rd, accordingly, and their success sparked the Wolverines’ 11-shot improvement between rounds. Freshman Sophia Trombetta and senior Elodie Van Dievoet, also in the lineup, placed in 31st and 40th respectively.
After defeating Texas A&M, Michigan faced Oregon on Tuesday. But the Ducks proved too much to handle, and the Wolverines fell, 4.5-0.5. Though Van Dievoet tied her match, her teammates all lost their respective matches.
“We played well, they played well, but they definitely played better than us,” Dowling said. “Plenty of positives to take away from our week.”
Junior Hannah Ghelfi and freshman Jacqueline Young also competed, but as individuals. They placed 28th and 46th among all competitors, and Ghelfi finished as runner-up in the individual bracket.
Regardless of the outcome, the Wolverines were glad to get match play practice, especially since the National Championship consists of a match play tournament.
“It’s important to get that experience,” Dowling said. “We don’t play match play all year. … It can get you in this great one-shot-at-a-time mentality, and it requires some experience. … It creates a lot of great team camaraderie.”
Additionally, while many sports enjoy frequent home play, golf is an exception. Thus, hosting a home tournament was a memorable occasion for Michigan.
“Radrick is a great place to host a tournament,” Dowling said. “It’s really good. It’s hard, but it’s really good.
“It’s always nice to compete at home. Golfers at any level don’t get to compete at home very often. … It’s a pretty special thing.”