The Michigan women’s golf team played its closest meet geographically all season – 480 miles from Ann Arbor.
After traveling to South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida and California for tournaments earlier in the season, the Wolverines made the relatively short trip to the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.
To Michigan’s benefit, many of the players on the team had played the course before – the Wolverines finished 11th in the same tournament last season. Still, Michigan coach Jan Dowling said that past experience with a course can only be so helpful.
“It’s nice to have some familiarity with the course, to know some of the lies and the layout of the holes,” Dowling said. “But every tournament is different, so we have to come prepared to play.”
Play at the Bryan Park Golf Course was scheduled to begin on Friday, but the round was postponed due to inclement weather. Earlier in the day, the tournament organizers decided to push the day’s round back, creating a 36-hole Saturday.
Michigan was finally able to tee off Saturday morning, shooting a score of 296 – good for seventh-best in the tournament. Leading the Wolverines was senior Grace Choi, who shot a 72 for the round. Junior Megan Kim and freshman Alisa Snyder followed Choi with each shooting a 74.
After round one, there was no time to relax back in the clubhouse, as Michigan went back out for its second round of the day. The Wolverines shot a team total of 299, putting them at ninth out of 18 teams heading into the final day. Choi once again led Michigan with a 71, but Snyder was again not too far behind, recording a 74 of her own.
The Wolverines’ last day turned out to be their best, as the team shot a combined 290. For the third straight day, Choi led the team with a third-round mark of 70.
“We had the fifth-lowest score of all of the teams on Sunday, in a field which included multiple top-20 teams,” Dowling said.
Sunday’s total put the Wolverines at a weekend total of 885 – 21 over par – and leapfrogged them to eighth place over No. 12 Wake Forest. The score was 34 strokes higher than first-place Alabama’s, but just 20 strokes behind runner-up Georgia’s – a difference of slightly more than one stroke per golfer per round.
Choi entered Sunday tied for ninth place overall, and her performance in the final round cemented her position. She finished with a three under par total of 213 – just three strokes behind first-place Kristen Gillman of Alabama.
Michigan has a week off before playing closer to Ann Arbor than ever before again, in the seemingly neighborly city of Columbus. But despite having to travel across the country every weekend, Dowling insists the golfers do not mind.
“In order to play golf we need warm weather, and the South has that,” Dowling said. “The girls like going on all of the trips, but as we keep going farther into spring we start to have more tournaments in the North.”