Confidence is essential in golf — especially when up against some of the best competitors in the nation.
It is even more important — yet harder to find — when you are a freshman.
But freshman Ashley Kim didn’t have that problem over the weekend, leading the Michigan women’s golf team at the Ruth’s Chris Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Wolverines finished in 12th place out of a strong 18-team field, with a three-day score of 875. Duke won the tournament with a score of 833.
Michigan struggled in Friday’s opening round and sat in 14th place with a substandard score of 299 at the end of the day. It was not the start the Wolverines had hoped for, particularly considering that they have found trouble in their last few tournaments.
“We certainly didn’t do ourselves any favors in the first round,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling. “We kind of dug ourselves a big hole.”
During Saturday’s round, however, the Wolverines found the answer they needed. Ashley Kim, who had shot a 74 in her initial round, rallied to card a six-under 66 with six birdies and no bogeys, moving her into a tie for 10th place.
“It was super impressive,” Dowling said. “It’s pretty rare to have a bogey-free round, and that says a lot about her consistency.”
Other Michigan golfers performed well on Saturday as well, including senior Kathy Lim who tallied a one-under 71. Senior Emily White and junior Elodie Van Dievoet both carded scores of 75, and senior Megan Kim carded a 78.
The Wolverines finished the second round with a one-under 287 and moved into 13th place. It was a significant improvement from their opening round.
“I’m proud of them for bouncing back the way that they did,” Dowling said.
Michigan continued to make progress during Sunday’s final round. Van Dievoet led the team with a three-under 69. She finished the tournament in 43rd place with a score of 219. Lim shot an even 72 to finish in 49th.
White and Megan Kim carded scores of 75 and 73 in the final round, finishing in 51st and 80th place respectively.
“We really played well the last two days,” Dowling said. “We finished well, which is nice.”
Ashley Kim wavered in her final round but still managed to finish in 37th with a score of 218. This tournament was another strong performance in her already-impressive freshman year.
“She’s playing on much longer golf courses that are set up more difficult than high school golf,” Dowling said. “For her to come out and do that in her first semester really says a lot about her talent level and her drive, and I think that’s going to give her a lot of confidence moving forward. … We are really pumped for her — it’s pretty great.”
The Wolverines were much more consistent in this outing compared to past tournaments. It also seemed to be more of a team effort, with different players scoring well throughout the weekend.
“It helps the team to know that there are multiple people that can go low,” Dowling said. “This time, two out of our three rounds were up to our potential. The last two tournaments, only one round was up to our potential of the three rounds.”
The field was very competitive and included powerhouses such as Duke and Alabama. Three other Big Ten teams — Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan State — also competed. It was a challenging test, but Michigan came to play.
“You gotta bring it every single day in the women’s collegiate golf world these days … and that’s easy to say and hard to do,” Dowling said. “ … our final two rounds should give us a lot of confidence that we can compete with some of the best teams in the country.”
Ashley Kim’s confidence showed this weekend, spurring the rest of the team and proving her legitimacy in the face of tough competition.