April 28, 2013
FRENCH LICK, Ind. - The No. 25 Michigan State women's golf team placed third at the Big Ten Championships and senior Caroline Powers finished runner-up as the conference tournament concluded on Sunday at the Donald Ross Course at the French Lick Resort. In addition to Powers, two other Spartans placed in the top five on the individual leaderboard, as Christine Meier tied for third and Allyssa Ferrell took fifth.
Although the Spartans posted the best round of the day with a 1-over 289 in the third and final round, it wasn't enough to overtake Northwestern and Purdue, who shared the conference title. The Spartans, who were attempting to win their third straight Big Ten Championship, started the day 18 shots behind Northwestern and charged all the way to within five shots of the Wildcats.
MSU finished with a team score of 889 (303-297-289), while the Wildcats (287-295-302) and Boilermakers (293-294-297) tied at 884. Purdue began Sunday five shots behind Northwestern and caught the Wildcats down the stretch.
The Spartans have now placed in at least the top-three at the Big Ten Championships for 10 straight years.
"It certainly was fun to make it interesting today; that was our goal after we really just played very poorly the first day," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. "With a field like that and at this time of year, you can't afford to shoot 303 and count a 79 as your fourth score when you have six players. It's disappointing. At that point, you don't want to feel like you've dug yourself a hole, but we dug ourselves a hole that was just too deep to get out of.
"The good thing is that we shot the low round today by eight strokes; that's a very good feeling. It makes everyone excited to know that we're a very capable team. We have a goal to finish in the top 10 at nationals. Getting to the regionals will be the next step on the agenda."
Powers' second-place showing marks her best career finish at the Big Ten Championships; she took fourth as a sophomore in 2011 and tied for third as a junior in 2012. She closed at 3-over-par with a 219 (75-73-71), seven shots behind medalist Paula Reto of Purdue (71-71-70--212).
Powers' runner-up finish is the best placing by a Spartan at the Big Ten Championships since Rachel Meikle claimed medalist honors in 2007.
Powers' final round of 71, which included four birdies, was the second lowest of her career at the Big Ten Championships as she moved from seventh to second on the leaderboard on the final day.
Meier tied for third place with a 4-over 220 (75-72-73), which is the highest finish of her collegiate career. She had three birdies in her final round on Sunday.
For the second straight week, Ferrell posted a career-best finish. After tying for seventh at last weekend's Lady Buckeye Invitational, Ferrell did even better at the Big Ten Championships by taking fifth with a 6-over 221 (74-75-72). The 54-hole score of 221 also matches a career low for Ferrell (2011 Tar Heel Invitational). Ferrell led MSU with a team-best five birdies in the third round.
By placing in the top six, Powers, Meier and Ferrell each landed a spot on the Big Ten All-Championships Team. It marks the third consecutive season Powers has been named to the squad.
Sophomore Trisha Witherby's round of 73, her lowest of the tournament, counted toward the team score on Sunday. Playing in her first Big Ten Championships, Witherby tied for 26th with a 230 (80-77-73).
The Michigan State women's golf team will find out its postseason destination on Monday when the NCAA announces its regional selections. The Spartans are expected to earn a trip to the NCAA Regionals for the 15th consecutive season.