Women get set for tournament

By Jessica Warchall

After a record finish at last weekend’s Lady Buckeyes Invitational in Dublin, Ohio, the women’s golf team looks to continue its success at the Big Ten tournament in Bloomington, Ind., this weekend.

Sophomore Casey Burden said the team has competed on the Indiana University Golf Course before so they are confident and prepared to face it again.

“We played the course in the fall in pretty tough conditions,” Burden said. “We know the courses and we’re swinging well right now – it’s just a matter of putting that together at Big Tens, which I think we can do.”

Last weekend the Illini achieved a team total 298 for the last round of play, tying the eighth-best round in school history. Illinois also finished above Big Ten rivals Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota at last weekend’s invitational.

“Most of the teams who finished above us (last weekend) will be at Nationals,” head coach Paula Smith said. “It was fun to be in that grouping since we tied the fifth-lowest score (Sunday) for all of the teams.”

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Illinois earned its record-breaking round after coming off of two top-10 finishes from the previous two tournaments. The team finished first at the Plantation Inn Invitational in Crystal River, Fla., and tied for fourth at the Illini Spring Classic at Stone Creek Golf Club in its solo home invitational.

“This tournament was really good preparation for Big Tens,” sophomore Stephanie Mory said. “It gives us confidence going into Big Tens knowing that we just had a great tournament – we feel more prepared.”

The Big Ten Illini team will be made up of six individuals. The five members who competed last weekend who are also competing Big Tens are Burden, Mory, sophomore Seul Ki Park, junior Meghan Naik and senior Megan Godfrey. In addition, freshman Nancy Featherstone will accompany the Illini to Indiana.

Last year the Illini finished ninth at Big Tens held at the University of Michigan Golf Course. However, the teams were only able to play three of the four scheduled rounds because of snow on the ground. This year the Illini are prepared to complete four rounds, Smith said.

She said last weekend’s 36-hole day prepared her team for the long days of golf at the Big Ten tournament.

“We hadn’t done 36 holes in one day since the fall so that was a little different,” Smith said. “The team seemed a little tired but they proved me wrong and had lots of energy to focus on each shot.”

Smith said this tournament will show that her team’s best golf is yet to come.

“Everybody has been working so diligently,” Smith said. “It’s really great to see all of their hard work pay off, and I know they feel the best is yet to come.”