Women to tee off in Urbana

Seul+Ki+Park+practices+at+the+Urbana+Country+Club+on+April+24%2C+2007.+Erica+Magda%0A

Seul Ki Park practices at the Urbana Country Club on April 24, 2007. Erica Magda

By Kyle Diller

The Illinois women’s golf team will be competing on their home turf for the first time this season at this weekend’s 31st annual Illini Spring Classic.

The 54-hole event will begin Friday at 8 a.m. with the first 36 holes and will conclude Saturday with the final 18 holes. The par-72, 6,244-yard golf course will host the fifteen teams and three individuals that will be participating in the Classic at Stone Creek Golf Club.

The defending champion of the Illini Spring Classic is Oregon, who will not be participating in this year’s event. Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Toledo are all previous champions of the tournament and all will be involved in the 2008 edition.

Despite the quality of the competition, the players remain confident that they can win their 11th Illini Classic title this weekend. Head coach Renee Slone stressed that the home advantage will be critical to success.

“Anytime you play on your home course, you feel like you know the course better than the other teams, and we hope to use that to our advantage,” Slone said.

The Illini will be looking to improve on their good start to the spring season after winning the Gainesville Shootout III and tying for fourth in the 15-team Samford Intercollegiate tournament last month.

“The win in Gainesville was a big boost to everyone’s confidence,” said Slone.

Illinois’ lineup will consist of seniors Seul Ki Park (74.57 stroke average), Kristine Cook (77.90), Stephanie Mory (78.48), junior Nancy Featherstone (81.50) and freshman Raquel Hopton (78.92). Senior Kristin Kallergis (80.67) will be competing as an individual in the tournament.

Park has high expectations for the Illini Classic.

“I’d like to take advantage of playing on our home golf course, obviously that’s a huge advantage for us,” said Park. “We’re going to feel very comfortable on the golf course. We know the holes, we know where the spots are good to hit to and where we need to hit on the greens.”

Slone and Park both mentioned the possibility of weather affecting the tournament.

“The weather condition could be a factor, especially outside,” Slone said.

“They’re calling for rain. If that does happen it’s going to be very important for each player to remember patience is key.”

“We may have to deal with a lot of wind, but the advantage that we have is that we’re used to playing in the wind,” said Park. “We’re all positive, we’re all confident, and that’s something we’re trying to maintain throughout the whole season.”

Fans can visit fightingillini.com for live scoring from the Illini Spring Classic.