Coming off a last-place finish in its previous tournament, the Michigan women’s golf team looked to avenge its performance at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Vail, Colo. this week.
The Wolverines finished the three-day, stroke play event in 10th place out of an 18-team field. And while that was certainly a substantial improvement, Michigan failed to seize an opportunity to place higher.
The Wolverines got off to a strong start, leading the field through Sunday. They couldn’t keep up, however, and steadily collapsed over the course of the tourney.
During the opening round on Sunday, junior Elodie Van Dievoet took charge of the field, finishing in first place at three-under 69. Van Dievoet’s performance was impressive from the start as she birdied five out of her first six holes, giving the Wolverines the spark they needed. Michigan finished the day with 19 birdies as a team.
“We go to every tournament to win it,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling. “We put ourselves in contention to do that, so that’s a positive.”
Freshman Ashley Kim, in her second college tournament, shot an even-par 72, ending at 13th. Other Wolverines carded solid rounds as well, putting Michigan in a tie for second place with a 290 — just one stroke back from the leader, San Diego State.
The Wolverines couldn’t repeat that performance Monday, ending with a 303 and falling into a tie for fifth.
Senior Emily White led Michigan with a 74 on Monday, but it simply wasn’t enough for the Wolverines to hold their ground. Her teammates didn’t do anything spectacular, either. Van Dievoet shot a 76, failing to fend off the competition and losing her lead. She moved into a tie for eighth, while Michigan’s other golfers carded substandard rounds.
Despite coming back with a 295 in the final round on Wednesday, the Wolverines continued to plummet on the leaderboard. They finished in 10th with a grand total of 888, 16 strokes behind the champion, Denver.
Van Dievoet was off to a shaky start and was six-over through her first eight holes of the final round. After settling down and finding her groove, she went on to birdie three straight holes.
But that wasn’t all — Van Dievoet eagled a long, 505-yard par 5 a couple holes later, and she even managed to tack on one more birdie before the round ended. She finished tied for 11th with a 217. It was quite the comeback considering the brutal start.
“We are obviously doing some things really well, and it shows what our potential is,” Dowling said. “But at the same time, we didn’t handle the lead very well the last few days.”
White tallied a 74 to finish in 26th while Ashley Kim finished 51st. Seniors Kathy Lim and Megan Kim were in Michigan’s lineup as well, finishing 38th and 62nd, respectively.
While it wasn’t smooth sailing for the Wolverines, they still made progress. They showed glimpses of top-notch play throughout the week. The next step, it appears, will be finding consistency.
“Our ball striking is pretty good. … We are gonna mostly focus on short game,” Dowling said. “We’ve got two big weeks to get ready. We’ve got two really strong tournaments coming up in October, and I know the team is pretty pumped to get after it and get better before we tee it up again.”