Success rarely appears out of thin air.
Instead, practice, and more importantly, experience lead to favorable outcomes. For the experienced Michigan women’s golf team, it’s no surprise that success follows..
In this week’s NCAA Regional held at the University of Michigan Golf Course, the Wolverines shot plus-28. They finished tied for third after a week of limited scoring opportunities at a brutally unforgiving course which saw high scores across the board. The rough conditions allowed only two individuals to shoot under-par. As a top-four finisher in its Regional, Michigan will advance to the NCAA Championship held at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Senior Ashley Lau, who shot plus-2 (215) and tied for fifth in the 54-hole tournament, and junior Hailey Borja, who shot plus-3 (216) to tie for ninth individually led the Wolverines.
Experience, as often is the case, was key to Michigan’s success in its first tournament since winning the program’s first Big Ten title at Fox Chapel Golf Club. The impact of the Wolverines’ experience was apparent from the moment their first player’s name was called on the first tee box Monday morning.. The home field advantage was strong — no matter the situation or the pressure that may have faced the Wolverines had already experienced every shot they encountered this week dozens of times before.
“They were so clutch this whole 18 holes (on Wednesday),” Michigan coach Jan Dowling said. “We had a bad round yesterday and responded really, really well. There’s a lot of pressure. It’s a different pressure being at home. They really wanted to do it. They had a bad day yesterday, and to bounce back the way that they did was just really impressive.”
Experience also comes from the ability to learn from past situations. Over the course of the season, the Wolverines have occupied spots near the top of tournament standings, playing with leads that have given them an understanding of what it takes to finish strong against their competitors in the final round.
On Wednesday, with six teams riding on its heels — all within 12 shots of the coveted fourth spot when play began — Michigan rebounded from its plus-16 second round to post a plus-3, good for the fifth best team-round all week. The Wolverines survived a playoff with Virginia Tech by just three strokes, and elimination by four.
As Michigan looks toward the NCAA Championship, it hopes to lean on the experience of its roster.
For the second consecutive season, the Wolverines’ eight golfers — seven of which are upperclassmen — will compete in the event held at Grayhawk Golf Club, the same location that was used in 2021.
“This whole team was here at Grayhawk last year,” Dowling said. “We’ve got the entire team returning and they know that golf course and they know how to prepare for it.”
The Wolverines look to improve on their 20th-place finish in the 2021 NCAA Championship, which included a fifth-place individual performance from Borja.
With experience as the marker that differentiates them from a season ago and something to prove after last year’s disappointing finish, Michigan looks poised to make a push at the title.