Women’s golf starts season with room to improve

By Nathan Grimm

The Fighting Illini women’s golf team has had mixed results in the first two tournaments of their 2006 season.

After a third place finish at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate to open the season, the team placed 10th out of 12 teams at last week’s Lady Northern in East Lansing, Mich. The tournament included 10 of the 11 Big Ten schools. Purdue was the only school absent from the event.

“It was good to see how all of the Big Ten schools are playing and it shows us what we need to do to compete,” said junior Kristine Cook.

The Illini finished the tournament with a combined score of 949. They were led by Cook, who shot rounds of 77-78-79 to finish with a 54-hole score of 234. Cook’s score was good enough to finish in a tie for 33rd in individual scores.

Right behind her was junior Seul Ki Park with a three-round score of 235. Park had the lowest scores in each of the first two rounds for the Illini, but an 82 on the final round dropped her to a tie for 37th overall. Senior Meghan Naik, the only senior on this year’s Illini squad, shot a 241 for the tournament, and junior Stephanie Mory finished just one stroke behind Naik at 242.

Michigan State hosted the event, which was held at Forest Akers West Golf Course. The Spartans won the event with a total score of 889, nine strokes ahead of Northwestern. Third place Ohio State, fourth place Michigan and fifth place Kent State all finished within three strokes of each other. Kent State’s Tara Delaney was the best individual golfer of the tournament, recording a 1-under-par 215 for the two days.

“The course was really tough and it played really long,” Cook said.

The Illini haven’t seen the last of the course, either. This spring’s Big Ten Championships will be held there as well. The chance to get to know the course was one of the positives the team could take away from the tournament, Cook said.

Head coach Renee Slone said the tournament was a good indicator of what areas the team needs to improve.

“It’s our second event of the year, so we’re just getting rolling and getting a handle on what we need to work on,” Slone said. “This fall we’re really working on our short game and course management, seeing where we stand and going from there.”

Both Slone and Cook singled out the short game as the area that needs the most improvement.

“We all had a lot of putts at the first tournament and did a little better this week,” Cook said. “We need to work on getting up and down as much as possible.”

Slone said the putting, which had let them down at Iowa, was moving in the right direction.

The team travels to South Bend, Ind., this weekend for the Notre Dame Invitational from Sept. 23-24.