As a freshman, Michigan golfer Rose Cassard crossed one hurdle – making the team as walk-on – only to be stopped by another.

She was redshirted her first year.

Cassard wasn’t discouraged and managed to keep her focus on making the cut as a sophomore this season.

She just started playing golf in high school, and she knew she needed more consistency in her game to match the quality on the Michigan team. She’s also in the engineering program and had already planned to stay five years, so being redshirted fit nicely into her academic schedule.

“Coming into this year, I knew I wasn’t ready last year,” Cassard said.

But early signs have given both Cassard and Michigan coach Kathy Teichert reasons to believe that this could be the breakthrough season. After a poor performance in the Colorado Women’s Open this summer, Cassard made it to the match-play semifinals of the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship. She lost to the eventual champion, Mandi McConnell of Michigan State, but the strong finish was an indication of the maturity in her game, according to Teichert.

“That gave her a lot of confidence in her game,” Teichert said. “She had not had a lot of major success in prior events. It was tremendous breakthrough for her game.”

Said Cassard: “It just showed me that I was able to compete at a higher level.”

Despite her success over the summer, her collegiate debut with the team at the Mary Fossum Invitational in East Lansing last weekend wasn’t what she had hoped for. Cassard – competing as an individual rather than part of the team – finished 78th with a 255 total (87-80-88). Her disappointing play matched that of the team, which finished sixth out of fifteen teams after winning the tournament last season.

Cassard knows shooting in the 80s is not good enough if she wants to be a permanent fixture on the roster. But it is something she does not intend to repeat.

“It’s definitely an experience that I can learn from,” Cassard said. “I just need to do better next time. I think I will.”

Teichert attributed the high scores to Cassard not hitting the ball well and focusing too much on the negatives in her game over the weekend. Sometimes this takes a toll on the mental part of the competition, Teichert said.

“Being the engineer she is, she analyzes everything too much,” Teichert said. “That’s where experience comes in. The more you do it the better you become.”

Cassard acknowledges that, when she overanalyzes the problem, it hurts her game.

“During practice, I wasn’t hitting the ball well. My tempo disappeared,” Cassard said. “Then I tried harder to shoot lower scores, but it’s not something you can make happen. You just have to let it happen.”

Cassard quickly bounced back after the dismal performance, shooting a 74 on Monday in the first-team qualifying round for the Lady Northern Invitational in Indiana.

Teichert said she was surprised at the fast turnaround but acknowledged that there’s still two days of qualifying to see if Cassard plays the Lady Northern with the team.

“When she connects and hits the ball, she’s a long-ball hitter,” Teichert said. “She has a lot of talent, and it’s just a matter of putting that together and trusting her swing.”

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