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The Indiana Daily Student

sports golf

Indiana women’s golf captures Big Ten Championship for the first time since 1998

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With a late Sunday surge and Michigan State’s collapse, Indiana women’s golf finally conquered the conference. The Hoosiers shot an 856, 8-under par April 19-21 to win the Big Ten Championship by one stroke, the program’s first conference title since 1998. 

"There were a lot of tears from pure joy and excitement... it was just surreal,” head coach Brian May said Tuesday. “It was something Kendall (Griffin) and I talked about as a vision, and it was great to see that come to fruition.” 

Indiana’s victory weekend came with a slew of historic accomplishments. The win marked Indiana’s eighth Big Ten Championship, third best in the conference. It was the Hoosiers’ third-lowest three-round score in program history and their first round under par since the 2018 Westbrook Invitational. 

Indiana started strong, slowly rising through the ranks. Its first-round score of 288, even-par placed the team in a tie for third after day one. The Hoosiers’ Saturday score of 285, 3-under par, put them into solo second, but the championship appeared all but secured with Michigan State’s 11-stroke lead with one round remaining. 

Until the improbable happened.  

Indiana saved its best for last with a final-round 283, 5-under par and Michigan State’s 295, 7-over round slipped the Hoosiers past the Spartans to steal the title. 

“Eleven shots seems insurmountable, but when you break it down it’s just two shots per player,” May said. “We had them understand that we had to put ourselves in better position. Each one of our girls did it at a high level Sunday for us to come out on top.” 

Fifth-year senior Caroline Craig paced the Hoosiers with a 209, 7-under par. Her efforts put her in a three-way tie in first place for Big Ten Co-Champion. She is the 11th Hoosier to claim the individual Big Ten champion status and the first since Danah Ford in 2004. 

Craig’s consistency earned her the crown. She shot 69, 3-under par twice before a final round of 71, 1-under — the first time she’d shot under par all three rounds of a tournament in her collegiate career. Her 14 birdies were second-most in the 84-player field. 

Redshirt junior Caroline Smith joined Craig on the Big Ten All-Conference team with a 211, 5-under par performance. She topped her career-best score by four strokes and tied Craig with 14 birdies in the tournament. 

Smith embodied the Hoosiers’ final-round push. Her bogey-free 67, 5-under par marked a career best. Her round is tied for the fifth-lowest in program history and is the second-lowest single round by a Hoosier in Big Ten Championship history.  

“[Craig and Smith] had key moments throughout the course of the year where they played really good golf, but we hadn’t been able to piece it together for three days,” May said. “They just put that all aside, went to work and had a really good, consistent week.” 

Sophomore Chloe Johnson shot a 219, 3-over par through three rounds to finish tied for 23rd. She totaled eight birdies — four of which came in her 71, 1-under second round score. 

Sophomore Faith Johnson carded a 220, 4-over par. Like Craig, her consistency played a key role throughout the weekend, leading the field with 42 pars. 

Despite their scores not counting, since only each team’s top-four scorers are recorded, senior Dominka Burdova and redshirt sophomore Maddie May rounded out the Hoosier lineup. Burdova finished 54th with a 228, 12-over par and May turned in a 229, 13-over par. May recorded a hole-in-one on the 140-yard par 3 third hole, which Brian May cited as a motivator. 

“That was a pivotal moment for us,” Brian said. “Hearing about something exciting like that give our girls a different level of energy that pushed them through the early parts of their round.” 

In just his second season, Brian May quickly turned around a scrambling program into Big Ten champions. Five of Indiana’s six competitors in the tournament, including the top four scorers, were all first-year transfers.  

“We wanted girls who wanted to play golf at a high level and embrace everything that comes with that,” May said. 

The 2024 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship Selection Show will take place at 2 p.m., Wednesday on Golf Channel. NCAA Regionals will take place May 6-8. 

Follow reporter Will Foley (@foles24) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s golf season.

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