Following a multi-week reprieve from competition, the Michigan women’s golf team teed off over the weekend at Bryan Park Golf Course in Greensboro, N.C., participating in the Bryan National Collegiate from Friday through Sunday.
In the face of stiff competition — including heavyweights in No. 20 Virginia, No. 21 Florida State and No. 28 East Carolina — and some unforgiving weather, the Wolverines finished 11th as a team with a total of 926 strokes over three days and 54 holes of golf.
Sophomore Kathy Lim led the way for the Wolverines, tying for eighth place individually with a career-best 224 (76-74-74) stroke total. The tally resulted in her second top-10 finish of the season.
“(Kathy) came off a tough week in Arizona a couple weeks ago and she came into practice each day with a purpose, had a plan and stuck to it,” said coach Jan Dowling. “I’m really proud of her that it paid off and that she was able to be resilient. As a coaching staff, we believe in her and I hope this gives her confidence to continue believing in herself.”
Lim carded the lowest totals in each round for Michigan, but she was quick to note that the course was no cakewalk.
“Overall it was a tough course to deal with,” Lim said. “We were definitely disappointed with the (11th-place) finish.”
Following Lim on the scorecard for the Wolverines was junior Grace Choi, who shot 232 (79-75-78) and finished tied for 42nd. Senior Catherine Peters and sophomore Megan Kim both tallied 236 (81-78-77 and 80-77-79, respectively) and finished tied for 51st, and sophomore Emily White came in at 242 (79-81-82) strokes, tying for 65th.
Conditions at Bryan Park Golf Course were not ideal for the 15 squads participating in the weekend’s event. Friday’s opening 18-hole round was delayed nearly four hours due to heavy rains and thunderstorms.
“We had some tough conditions to deal with this week, and our team did really well with that, actually,” Dowling said. “It was super windy all three days and it was about 36 degrees when we teed off (Sunday) morning.”
Added Lim: “It was a course that’s already tough to begin with, but the rainy conditions and the 10- to 25-mile-per-hour wind did not help at all.”
Dowling said the team was not familiar with the Greensboro course, meaning Thursday’s practice round was extremely important for them. The competition they saw over the weekend was no stranger to them, however.
“We’ve seen many of those teams throughout the whole year, which is great,” Dowling said. “You can’t get better unless you see the better teams. I know our team loves seeing that field; they’re competitors and we know that we were close to beating them if we improve our putting and a little bit of the short game.”
With the 2016 Big Ten Championships (Apr. 22-24) waiting in the wings, Lim came away from the chilly rain-soaked outing with some positives as well.
“This course really showed us our true weaknesses,” Lim said, “Which is perfect because we are heading to Big Tens now — basically the most important event of our season. We’re excited to work hard on our weaknesses and get better.”
Lim and company have more than two weeks to prepare for the Big Ten Championships, which will be held at the Fort Golf Resort in Indianapolis for the second year in a row. The winner of the conference receives the automatic bid to the NCAA regionals, held at four different sites during May 5-7.
Dowling is certain her team, which has battled with some of the nation’s best all season long, will make the most of its postseason opportunity.
“Our team’s been close a lot and I’m excited for an opportunity for us to have everyone’s game in their A-form heading into our postseason,” Dowling said. “They’ve got a great opportunity to get into the NCAA Championship and that would be a really huge step for our program.”