The Michigan State Spartans’ Women’s Golf team are the 2021 Big Ten Champions! The team pulled away in the final round Sunday at TPC River’s Bend in Maineville, Ohio after entering the day tied for first. The title marks the team’s third since 2017 and sixth in the past 11 years.
The Big Ten title is the eighth under head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll (2001, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2021) and 14th in program history. The Spartans have won their last three Big Ten titles at TPC River’s Bend and this year’s 11-under-par 853 was the lowest of their three winning scores at the course.
Michigan State led the field after the opening round on Friday. The Spartan finished the day 2-under-par-286, which left them one shot ahead of Maryland in second place and four up on Michigan in third place.
Freshman Leila Raines led the field after being the only one to shoot in the 60s, finishing the day 3-under-par-69. She birdied two in a row while finishing with three total birdies and six pars, marking her second-lowest round of the season.
Paz Marfa Sans and Yurika Tanida both shot even-par-72s and sat tied for seventh place, while Haylin Harris shot a 1-over-par-73 and sat tied for 16th. Valentina Rossi finished the day 2-over-par-74 in 24th place, Valery Plata shot a 3-over-par-75 and finished tied for 32nd.
Day two saw the Terps pull up even with the Spartans. Maryland and MSU finished the day at 9-under-par-567. The Spartans shot a 7-under-par-281 on Saturday, while the Terps shot 8-under-par-280 to leave the teams tied and ahead of third-place Michigan by seven shots. No other team finished the day two strokes under par.
Four Spartans finished the day in the top-15. Freshman Leila Raines led the day for MSU, but ended up in second at 4-under-par-140. She was one shot behind the Terps’ Laura Van Respaille. Raines finished the day with just one birdie, but eight pars to finish the day 1-under-par-71.
Meanwhile, Valery Plata finished the day with the second-lowest score of all players on Saturday at 4-under-par-68. She notched a pair of birdies bogey-free and overall was tied for eighth at the end of the day at 1-under-par-143. Paz Marfa Sans and Valentina Rossi tied for 14th place at even-par-144, with Marfa Sans shooting her second straight 72. Rossi finished the front nine ahead of the other Spartans with 3-under-par thanks to three birdies, and finished the day 2-under-par-70. Senior Yurika Tanida finished the day tied for 19th place at 1-over-par-145, while Haylin Harris was tied for 22nd at 3-over-par-147, shooting 2-over-par-74 on Saturday.
Sunday opened as go time for the Spartans, and they finished the day 11-under-par-853 to claim the tile a full five shots ahead of the three teams tied in second place — Maryland, Nebraska, and Michigan.
Michigan State pulled back into sole possession of first place after the first round on Sunday. Four Spartans ended up in the top-14 to finish. Junior Valery Plata led the way, tying for third place at 5-under-par-211 (75-68-68). She finished with six total birdies on Sunday, finishing with two straight 4-under-par-68.
Plata also took home the Big Ten Mary Fossum Award for lowest stroke average to par (-0.57). She’s the first Spartan to win the award named after the late MSU coach since Sarah Burnham in 2018. Fossum, who coached the Spartans to six Big Ten titles, passed away in December at the age of 93.
Paz Marfa Sans had her best round of the tournament on Sunday with a 2-under-par-70, finishing in eighth-place at the end 2-under-par-214 (72-72-70). It was her second career top-10 Big Ten Championships finish. She also notched two birdies on the day.
Leila Raines and Valentina Rossi finished in 11th and 14th places, respectively. The freshman pair provied vital in helping to securing the title. Raines finished Sunday at even-par-216 (69-71-76). Rossi finished Sunday 1-over-par-217 (74-70-73). Yurika Tanida tied for 20th place after shooting a 3-over-par-75 on Sunday to finish 4-over-par-220 (72-73-75), and giving the Spartans five players in the top-20.
Haylin Harris shot an 8-over-par-80 on Sunday and finished the tournament 11-over-par-227 (73-74-80) and tied for 45th place.
WE ARE BIG TEN CHAMPIONS!!! pic.twitter.com/76zET9oXfM— Spartan Women's Golf (@msuwomensgolf) April 25, 2021
The conference championship gives Michigan State the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. The Regionals will be played May 10-May 12. The NCAA Women’s Golf Championships selection show will air on the Golf Channel on Wednesday, April 28, beginning at 2 p.m. EDT.
Among the other accomplishments by the team during the season, that includes the Scholar-Athlete Award to Valery Plata.
Congrats to Valery Plata on earning the Scholar-Athlete Award at last night’s SASS Gala! pic.twitter.com/MeKqjfIbSt— Spartan Women's Golf (@msuwomensgolf) April 23, 2021
That also came on the heels of her winning Big Ten Golfer of the Week on April 21 for the second time.
#B1GWGolf News ⬇️— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) April 21, 2021
Valery Plata of @msuwomensgolf is the #B1G Co-Women’s Golfer of the Week ⛳
• Secured 1st individual win of the season & 2nd of career, carding a 54-hole score of 212 (-4) at the Indiana Invitational#B1G https://t.co/uFU2lf5Z0r pic.twitter.com/Cf6AgFJs2P
Plata also won it on April 7.
Congrats to Valery Plata - the Big Ten Golfer of the Week! pic.twitter.com/3Ck6y6or64— Spartan Women's Golf (@msuwomensgolf) April 7, 2021
And of course the team had numerous accomplishments and finishes throughout the season, individually and as a group. However, let’s not forget the student part of student-athletes by making sure to finish with mentioning the team finished last fall with the highest-ever semester GPA for any MSU sports team.
A GREAT fall semester in the classroom! pic.twitter.com/jsI0bdudrr— Spartan Women's Golf (@msuwomensgolf) December 31, 2020
Coach Slobodnik-Stoll’s Media Remarks
Valery Plata’s Media Remarks
This article was updated on Monday, April 26 at 2:30 p.m. EDT to include media remarks following the team’s win.