HOUSTON — Ashley Hofmeister was back to her par-making self Thursday and, thanks in large part to the junior's 75, the UW-Whitewater women's golf team will be back for the final round of the NCAA Division III Championship.
Hofmeister, slowed by stomach pain during Wednesday's second round, had four bogeys and one birdie at Bay Oaks CC and came within one shot of matching her season low. Her 54-hole total of 23-over-par 239 boosted her 19 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for 46th place, 13 shots behind third-round leader Emily Salamy of Rhodes College with 18 holes to play.
"Ashley was just steady and had great opportunities for birdies," Whitewater coach Andrea Wieland wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.golf. "(She) made one and almost had a few more. She did have a couple great up-and-downs as well. We needed every ounce of that 75."
The Warhawks continued to show subtle improvement as a team, shaving three shots off their second-round score with a 321. They held onto a share of 13th place with St. Mary's (Ind.), which shot 313 to join Whitewater at 973 — 58 shots behind first-place Williams College and 12 shots out of 12th.
However, after shooting a sizzling 153 on the front nine — buoyed by a 36 from Hofmeister and a 37 from No. 5 golfer Kaitlin Bowe — the Warhawks struggled on the back nine. They lost 19 shots to par over the final six holes from their counting golfers — Hofmeister (75), Maddie McCue (81), Bowe (82) and CheyAnn Knudsen (83).
"I’m so glad we get to start on that back nine because we just hate (Nos.) 15, 16, 17 and 18," Wieland wrote. "(Friday) we can play with no pressure and no expectations, just go out and swing and have fun."
At least Whitewater will have the chance.
None of the other Wisconsin golfers in the field played on teams that made the cut. Only the top 15 teams in the 25-team field advance to Friday's play.
Lakewood's Maggie Warrner, a sophomore at Illinois Wesleyan, came the closest. She shot her second straight 79 and moved into a tie for 55th, but fell three shots shy of claiming one of the six individual berths for the final round that went to golfers whose teams did not finish among the top 15.
Verona's Emily Opsal, a junior at Central (Iowa), shot her second straight 85 and finished tied for 70th at 247. Mukwonago's Hannah Schulz, a freshman at Aurora (Ill.), shot her lowest round of the week (an 85) and finished tied for 99th at 261.