Women’s Golf Falls Short in Third Round of NCAA Championships

Katie Lu Qualifies to Play as an Individual in Monday’s Final Round
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 10:51 PM EDT
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Scottsdale, Ariz. (WILX) - Before Michigan State’s women’s golf team left its hotel for the third round of the NCAA Championships, their deficit to reach the cut line had been reduced from three shots to one.

The Spartans teed off on cut day at 11:42 a.m. and were immediately in a back-and-forth battle over 18 holes among five to seven teams vying to be among the top-15 teams to make the cut and play on Monday.

Michigan State was near or at the cut-line on the final holes, but finished just shy, shooting a 10-over par 298 in the final round.

The Spartans finished the NCAA Championship with a three-day, 54-hole total of 21-over par 885 and in a tie for 18th place among 30 teams, just four shots out of the 15th spot.

Stanford shot a 13-under par 851 to top the field, with Wake Forest and Texas tied for second place (6-under par 858), Southern California fourth (2-under par 862) and Florida State in fifth place (1-under par 863).

Despite the team finish, sophomore Katie Lu will advance to play for the individual title on Monday as she tied for 30th place individually and was one of the top nine players outside the 15 qualifying teams, advancing her to Monday’s final stroke play round.

“When you’re so close to something and you wanted it so bad, it’s hard,” Head Coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. “When it’s four strokes away and you don’t get it, that’s hard.  What’s most important to me right now and what I said the team was that in the last two weeks, we’ve moved this program to a different level.”

Lu led the Spartans from start to finish, tying for 30th place individual at 1-over par 217 (72-72-73). After a bogey on her fourth hole, the par-3, 13th hole, she finished the back with five-straight pars and posted a pair of birdies on the front to finish at 1-over par. Lu was second in the field with 41 pars over three rounds.

“I’m really proud of Katie,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “To make it as an individual to the top nine and her opportunity to play for a national championship individually tomorrow is pretty cool.  That’s the first time that’s ever happened, so history made.”

Sophomore Brooke Biermann and junior Valentina Rossi tied for 65th place with scores of 6-over par 222, respectively. Biermann (73-74-75) shot a 3-over par 75 on Sunday, finishing the day with two birdies and 11 pars. Rossi (75-73-74) bogeyed her first hole, but then parred the final eight holes of the back and birdied two of her final three holes.

Sophomore Shannon Kennedy finished in a tie for 99th place at 10-over par 226 (75-75-76). She had a bridie on her front nine, the par-3, 13th hole, and played the back in 3-over par to finish at 4-over par for the day.

Junior Leila Raines, who qualified for the NCAAs last year as an individual, finished in a tie for 133rd place at 16-over par 232 (73-78-81).

The Spartans reached the NCAA Championships for the 15th time in program history and the 13th time under the direction of Slobodnick-Stoll. After a regular season that saw the team finish among the top-five teams four times, the Spartans won the NCAA Palm Beach Regional, the first regional win in program history.

“All of these players are coming back next year and I think they’re very, very hungry and they know what they’re really capable of,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “That’s the positive out of all this. Sometimes, when things burn and you don’t’ get what you want, you want to work harder and make sure it doesn’t happen again.  It’s so hard when you’re so close. I’m still very, very proud of what this team accomplished. We came to a tournament where we had been ranked 33rd or 34th all year and we just finished 19th in the country, so there’s a lot of good.”

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