The Michigan State women’s golf team won the Big Ten Championship on Sunday, April 27 in French Lick, Ind.
The Spartans split the Championship with Big Ten foe Ohio State, as the teams each shot a 31-over-par 895. This marks the third time in four years the Spartans will be taking home the hardware, and that speaks to the consistency of the program under head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll.
Coach Slobodnik-Stoll has won the Big Ten Championship for the fifth time in her coaching career. Howeverm she was quick to attribute that success to the combination of seniors who have a lot of experience, coupled with multiple talented and mature underclassmen.
“We’ve got three seniors that are going to be graduating, but we’ve got one heck of a core coming back for next year,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “The last day without those three young kids we wouldn’t have won”.
One of those young kids is redshirt freshman Gabby Yurik from Rochester, Mich. who played in just her second tournament of the season in the Big Ten Championship. Her only other event coming the week prior in the Lady Buckeye Invitational.
Despite the lack of experience in the big moments, Yurik and her teammates were full of confidence.
“I feel like my background in sports and so much stuff in my history makes me the competitor that I am. I knew that I could shoot the scores that I shot, maybe other teams weren’t expecting it, but I definitely knew I had it in me,” Yurik said.
Senior Liz Nagel is more familiar with the pressure of the Big Ten Championship, and was able to keep calm at the end hitting a crucial birdie on 18.
“I was nervous going into the last hole, but then I said, ‘Liz this is what we live for, everyday we wake up and live for those moments.’ That’s what it was, it was awesome and it was exciting,” Nagel said.
Fellow senior Alyssa Ferrell was shooting behind Nagel, and knew she would need a big final hole in order to pull off the win.
“I knew going into the last hole we were two down, that’s as far as I knew,” Ferrell said.
After a solid drive, Ferrell walked to her ball and met coach Slobodnik-Stoll in the middle of the fairway.
“I have two favorite clubs: my putter and my seven wood, and I happened to have my seven wood in my hand for this second shot on the par-five that has been makeable all weekend,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell hit her shot and once she got closer to the green, recognized that she had ended in the bunker.
“I’m laying here two in the bunker, that’s still okay. So when it came out and was about nine feet away, coach and I read it from every angle, ” Ferrell said.
Ohio State’s Jessica Porvasnik was Ferrell’s playing partner, and won the individual title with a 73-72-71 (216). From approximately 20 feet out on the 18th green, Porvasnik sank the putt, sending the Ohio State faithful into an uproar.
“I turned to coach and go, ‘I need to make this to tie,’” Ferrell said. “Then when I was about to putt, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop and I just remember coach saying ‘you can do this.’”
It was advantageous to have a senior and experienced player for Michigan State going last as she was able to draw from her practice and past experiences to help her on the final putt.
“During my practice sessions sometimes I will say to myself, ‘Okay this is for the win or this is for the tie,’ so that’s exactly what I did on that putt.” Ferrell said. “I closed my eyes, thought about that, and just thought about the stroke and not everything else around me”.
“Once the putt dropped in, I gave it a huge fist pump. I was so excited. I mean the uproar after I made it was incredible too,” Ferrell said.
“That has to be the biggest putt of my life”.
The Michigan State Spartans are hoping that Ferrell and the rest of the team have a few more big putts left, as they are off to their 16th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance.
Michigan State is the No. 8 seed in the Western Region and play will kick off on Thursday, May 8, in the Tumble Creek Club at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Wash.
Anthony Garcia is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Women’s Golf