It’s easy to blame rain for a poor showing on the golf course. It is always distracting to play a full round seeking constant shelter from an umbrella. But in tournament play, the Michigan women’s golf team knows a wet course maintains an even playing field. This weekend, the Wolverines headed south to compete in the Lady Northern Invitational in Bloomington. Michigan won the tournament on its home turf last year, but couldn’t defend its title at Indiana. Michigan took sixth place in a field of 12 after placing sixth as defending champions the previous week at the Fossum Invite in East Lansing
“It’s a disappointing start,” Michigan coach Kathy Teichert. “We have the same caliber of talent as last year, but we haven’t been able to come together to score as a team yet. We’ve had some bright spots, but we all need to shine together.”
In the 36-hole format, six Wolverines competed, but only the top four combined scores were posted against the field.
“We keep posting three good scores,” Teichert said. “But the fourth remains elusive. We just need one more, and we’ll be in great shape. We need to work on our endurance in order to stay sharp for 36 straight holes. Improving the short game remains ever-important.”
Senior Amy Schmucker led Michigan with an individual ninth-place finish, posting scores of 73, 74 and 74 for a three round total of 221. Junior Ali Stinson was the second best Wolverine, finishing 19th with a combined score of 226.
Purdue held a firm lead after two rounds, with five Boilermakers in the top ten to help secure a 15-stroke lead over the closest competitor. The Boilermakers forged through Sunday’s rain with their lead intact and the tournament in hand, finishing 20 strokes ahead of second-place Michigan State.
Michigan was in a good position at the start – holding third place after the first round – but fell into trouble as its performance began to drag during the next eighteen holes. The hot and muggy weather took its toll on the Wolverines. Michigan combined for 312 strokes in the second round – 16 strokes worse than the 296 they had recorded earlier in the day. The disappointing turn of events dropped the team from third to seventh, putting them in a hole that they could not escape during Sunday’s rain-soaked third round.
The rain lasted all day at increasing intervals. At one point, course play was suspended for a full 15 minutes. Puddles collecting on greens caused protracted squeegee timeouts, and players were forced to wait it out on the tee boxes, umbrellas in hand.
“The rain got heavier as the round progressed, especially during the last six holes,” Stinson said. “It became difficult to maintain concentration. The stops and starts can really knock off your rhythm.”
Sophomore Lindsay Davis did not allow the lengthy pauses to phase her. She chipped in for birdie on a par 3 fourth hole after waiting 30 minutes for an Indiana maintenance crew to squeegee an unplayable green.
Top Michigan scorer Schmucker was undeterred by the inclement conditions, fortified by a healthy attitude toward the disagreeable weather and the fortune of playing with field-leading Samantha Ridgedale of Illinois State.
“Everybody’s in the same boat when it’s raining,” Schmucker said. “You have to stay patient because some shots will get away from you. If that happens, you have to focus on getting up and down. Playing with somebody who’s having a great day tends to elevate your own game, so it was a real pleasure to play with the golfer in the lead.”