Illini women’s golf practices patience, finishes Badger Invitational in ninth

By Rich Mayor

This year’s theme for the women’s golf team has been, and will continue to be, patience.

Illinois finished ninth in the 12-team field at the Badger Invitational in Verona, Wis., this weekend. The Illini were poised to make a run Sunday but faltered a bit in the final round, as No. 13 California won the tournament with a 25-over par score of 889.

“It was a little bit of a struggle for us this week,” head coach Renee Slone said. “We had some great rounds posted, but we just lacked that consistency of having four solid scores every round, and that’s what it takes to be successful. We didn’t have everybody clicking on all cylinders, and that’s something we’ll be working on this week.”

After starting the tournament slowly with a first-round 313, the team settled down and shaved seven strokes from its score, tallying a 306 to finish in ninth place Saturday. But another 313 appeared in Sunday’s final round, as only freshman Samantha Sloan managed a round under 79 with her one-over 73. Sloan was three-under par at one point Sunday, yet the team remained idle in the tournament and ended Sunday as it began – in ninth place.

“Today’s conditions were a little bit tougher,” Slone said. “But we were able to see the course for three rounds previously, and you tend to think that’d help, that scores should be progressing lower each round, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for us today.”

Hailey Koschmann, freshman in LAS, paced the Illini on Saturday, firing two rounds of 69 and 74. She entered Sunday tied for second individually but dropped a 81 in the final round. Her total score of 224 was good for a tie for 14th, the only Illini to finish in the top 40. Nancy Featherstone, senior in Engineering, tied for 40th, with a 21-over 237, as Nora Lucas, freshman in LAS and Sloan finished tied for 46th with identical scores of 23-over 239.

“We played all right, but I know we can definitely play better,” Sloan said. “There are things we need to work on, but it was still respectable.”

One positive that resulted from the weekend was the team’s recognition of what improvements can be made.

“We haven’t played the par-fives really well, so that’s one thing we’re going to be working on,” Slone said. “We need to find a way to salvage holes – sometimes when you hit a bad shot, you need to take your medicine and make the most of it. A bogey may be the best you can make, so go with that instead of trying to be a hero with an extraordinary shot, and if it isn’t successful it turns into a double or triple or maybe even worse.”

Illinois returns to the links on Oct. 6, when it heads to Evanston, Ill., for the Windy City Collegiate Classic.