COLUMBUS, Ohio — After playing 54 holes over the course of three days, the Colorado women's golf team put its fate in the hands of the Michigan Wolverines on Wednesday.
With a trip to the NCAA championship on the line, all the Buffaloes could do was watch — and hope. When Michigan's Elodie Van Dievoet sank a birdie putt on the 18th hole, CU's hope turned to heartbreak.
For the second year in a row, CU came one stroke shy of the NCAA championships, finishing seventh overall at the NCAA Columbus Regional, played at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
"It's tough," CU head coach Anne Kelly said.
The Buffs posted their best round of the tournament (9-over, 297) and finished the event at 45-over, 909. Michigan finished at 44-over to edge the Buffs for sixth. The top six teams advanced to the NCAA championship.
After CU had completed its round, Michigan had a two-stroke lead and several players still on the course. A couple of bogeys dropped the Wolverines into a tie with the Buffs, but it all came down to the birdie on No. 18 by Van Dievoet, the last Wolverine on the course.
"You just kind of stand here and hope that someone makes a bogey coming in," CU junior Brittany Fan said.
CU was in position to advance because it played the first 16 holes of the day at a stellar 1-over par. The Buffs were sweating out the finish, however, because they played the last two holes at 8-over. As a group, they were 5-over on the par-3 17th hole.
"These girls fought so hard today," Kelly said. "They played a good front nine and they came out on that back nine and were playing their hearts out. We had trouble finishing; No. 17 was a really tough par-3 and it got us."
It was the second day in a row that CU ended a good day on a sour note. The Buffs were 5-over on their final hole Tuesday.
"It is a team thing, but what we've been trying to do is not let specific teammates feel like the blame is on them," Fan said. "We try keep the mood a little light and try to look at the positive. We take the positives and come in and get ready for summer training."
One of the positives was Fan, who finished in a tie for 13th, at 8-over for the tournament. She improved each round, closing with a 1-over 73.
Freshman Kirsty Hodgkins finished in a tie for 22nd and battled back from an 80 in the first round to play the final two rounds at 1-over.
Florida and South Carolina both finished at plus-22 to lead the field, with Florida State (plus-27), Ohio State (plus-29) and Purdue (plus-40) also finishing in the top five.
South Carolina's Ana Pelaez and Florida's Kelly Grassel shared medalist honors at even-par.
CU loses talented senior Esther Lee to graduation, but is slated to return its other four players, and the Buffs to use this result as motivation.
"Hopefully everyone takes their anger, disappointment or whatever they're feeling and puts it toward a motivator to get better," Lee said.
CU's only trip to the NCAAs was in 2012, when the Buffs placed fourth at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie. ... This is just the third time in seven regional trips that CU finished in the top 10. ... A year ago, CU finished the West regional with a strong final round, but wound up one shot out of sixth. ... At 9-over par, CU tied for its third-best score in relation to par in program history.