Senior Catherine Peters wasn’t ready for her career on the Michigan women’s golf team to end just yet.
At the NCAA Regional in Shoal Creek, Ala., Peters shot a team-best 223 (+7) in the three-day tournament to help the Wolverines finish sixth place with a total score of 916, good enough for the team to qualify for the final spot of the NCAA Championships in two weeks. This is Michigan’s second championship appearance in program history, ending a 14-year drought.
“We’re really excited and proud,” said Michigan coach Jan Dowling. “This course was very difficult. There was a huge bunch of teams within striking distance after day one. We stayed patient, put a good second round together and (Saturday) we played smart golf. It was a fantastic team effort.”
The course at the Shoal Creek Country Club was not especially kind to any team — only two players in the entire field scored below the par of 72 on any of the three days. Teams focused more on limiting mistakes on the fast greens as opposed to looking for career-best performances.
After the first day of competition Thursday, Michigan’s chances at advancing looked bleak. Its score of 311 positioned it in 13th place out of 18 teams.
But limited mistakes thereafter alongside a tournament-high 34 birdies — seven more than the next closest team — turned things around.
Though the Wolverines’ best weekend score of 300 came Saturday, it was Friday when they made their six-spot jump. Sophomore Megan Kim led the team with four birdies that day, and junior Grace Choi trailed her by only one shot with a 77.
But it was Peters, the Wolverines’ lone senior, who was most consistent throughout the tournament. Her 223 total strokes tied her for fifth place in the whole field, and she also tied for first with the best par-3 score in the tournament.
“She’s been great all week,” Dowling said. “She faced some adversity but got right back all week long. She’s a senior and wanted to keep playing for Michigan. I’m thrilled she gets to compete in the championships.”
And on the tournament’s final day, Michigan’s 300 was the second-best score in the tournament, and gave the Wolverines the push they needed to clinch a sixth-place finish.
Despite ultimately finishing well over par, Dowling was quite pleased with how her team performed and believed that it prepared them well for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
“This golf course had fast greens and required a lot of patience,” Dowling said. “That is really going to help us as we head into the national championship. The competition is going to be stronger and this course really trained us for that.”