Sarah Busey has become her own tough act to follow this spring at Santa Clara University.
But the 2016 WIAA Division 2 state golf champion from Racine St. Catherine's seems to be finding a delicious challenge in it.
One week after tying one school scoring record and setting another, Busey did something earlier this week that she'd never done in college: Break par all three rounds.
The Broncos sophomore did it in the heat of Maricopa, Arizona, at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic. She shot rounds of 71-70-71 to finish tied for second in the 108-player field, four shots behind wire-to-wire winner Suthavee Chanachai of New Mexico State.
"It was awesome to be able to put together three rounds under par," Busey wrote via text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now is eliminate that high round! (Also, I had a teammate tell me that if I shot under par all 3 rounds she’d buy me a sandwich😂)."
With temperatures in the mid-90s, Busey followed up a bogey-birdie-bogey stretch early in her first round with a 13-hole closing stretch she played in 2-under to shoot an opening 71. In the afternoon round of the 36-hole opener, Busey opened with a birdie at No. 13 in the shotgun-start format and was 4-under going into her final hole only to make a double-bogey at the par-4 12th to finish with a 2-under 70.
"It was tough to keep focus, especially during the 36-hole day as the heat wore me down a little bit," Busey wrote. "But I did my best to stay present."
In the final round Tuesday, Busey birdied two of her first three holes starting at No. 1 and turned in 2-under 34. She was two shots off the lead when she double-bogeyed No. 12 for the second straight round, but bounced back with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 before a bogey at No. 16 dropped her into a tie for second with Beah Cruz of Northern Colorado.
"(Tuesday), I put myself in a lot of good positions, I had some great opportunities for birdie," Busey wrote. "Even though I had a little hiccup on (No.) 12, I tried my best to stay patient when it got windy towards the end and focus on just making pars."
Santa Clara, meanwhile, came within one stroke of posting its second victory of the season. The Broncos shot a final-round 296 and finished the 54-hole event at 20-over 884, one stroke behind Texas-El Paso.
The Broncos, who are ranked 102nd in this week's GolfStat.com NCAA Division I rankings, are idle until the West Coast Conference Championship, which begins April 18 at Manito G&CC in Spokane, Washington.
Santa Clara finished last in the five-team conference championship a year ago — 45 strokes behind Brigham Young, which won a playoff over Pepperdine for the team title. Pepperdine is ranked 29th and Brigham Young is No. 77, but Santa Clara has climbed ahead of San Francisco (No. 114) and Gonzaga (No. 125) in the GolfStat.com rankings.
The WCC does not qualify for an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. In 2018, BYU and Pepperdine both received at-large berths to the NCAA Regionals with Brigham Young finishing ninth at the Austin (Texas) Regional and Pepperdine finishing 11th out of 18 teams at the San Francisco Regional.
"Obviously we are a little bummed to fall short of the win by one shot," Busey wrote. "But I think we all played some great golf this tournament and are looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish at conference!"