Like mother, like daughter: Elodie Van Dievoet leads Golfweek Conference Challenge

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Like mother, like daughter: Elodie Van Dievoet leads Golfweek Conference Challenge

Women

Like mother, like daughter: Elodie Van Dievoet leads Golfweek Conference Challenge

WOLCOTT, Colo. – Even on a good day, Elodie Van Dievoet has a tough time one-upping mom. Florence Descampe won six times on the Ladies European Tour and once on the LPGA, the 1992 McCalls Classic in Vermont. Descampe, who was part of the victorious ’92 Solheim Cup team, quit competing four years later when she was six months pregnant with Elodie. 

Van Dievoet, a statuesque player with a beautiful swing, looks more like her mother every day. The Michigan junior opened with four consecutive birdies at Red Sky Ranch’s Fazio Course. She suffered a brutal lip-out on the 18th green from 4 feet yet still leads the Golfweek Conference Challenge by one stroke over five players at 3-under 69.

The Wolverines were one of four teams to hold the lead during Round 1. They ended the day one back of San Diego State, winners of the last two Conference Challenge tournaments. 

Michigan coach Jan Dowling watched Van Dievoet hit one tee shot at the British Girls’ in England and was immediately captivated. 

“I just loved her rhythm and her golf swing,” said Dowling, who called Van Dievoet somewhat of a sleeper recruit.

Field hockey was Van Dievoet’s first love. It wasn’t until she started having success on the golf course, however, that she began to tolerate the ancient game and by age 15, she’d fallen head over heels. 

“My mother never pushed for it because she knows how hard it is,” said Van Dievoet.

Descampe turned professional at age 19 and Van Dievoet said mom regrets that she didn’t get an education. Coming to America to play college golf was trendy when she was a junior player, Van Dievoet said, and she initially had no interest.

Now she’s rewriting the record books in Ann Arbor. 

Van Dievoet took a gap year after high school to work on her English at Cambridge. She struggled early on at Michigan, barely cracking the lineup her first semester. But by spring of her freshman year, Van Dievoet had notched a career-best 69 at the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore.

“The biggest difference is around the greens,” said Dowling. An exceptionally strong ball-striker who gets longer every year, Van Dievoet routinely hits at least 14 greens. 

Stats showed Van Dievoet that she has few long putts during any given round. So she got to work last year on the rhythm and timing of her stroke from 8 to 15 feet. Her scoring average dropped four strokes in her second year of college.

At the 2017 NCAA regionals in Columbus, Van Dievoet drained an 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole to break a tie with Colorado and send Michigan to a second consecutive NCAA finals.

The Belgian’s 73.09 scoring average last season set a school record. She also became the first Wolverine to claim a Big Ten title last April and tied for fourth at the NCAA Championship.

Van Dievoet now stands 4 centimeters taller than her mother. They’ve paired together over the years in inter-club competitions and Van Dievoet had a blast each time. They have similar games, Van Dievoet said, and a similar “strong” character. Mom had a bit of a temper on tour, Van Dievoet noted, and the apple didn’t fall far.

Dowling said the ebbs and flows are a positive though for her budding star.

 “She’ll get a little angry,”  said Dowling, “and it will push her.”

As for following in mom’s footsteps to the LPGA, Van Dievoet is torn. She’s heard the stories and knows, better than most, that it’s a tough life. 

“But I love playing,” she said. “I just have so much fun on the course.”

 

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