Illini women falter at Lady Northern, finish 11th on a difficult course

By Rich Mayor

The Illinois women’s golf team entered this weekend’s Lady Northern with hopes of being launched into a new era of success – but it was not to be.

The squad finished 11th in the 14-team field, shooting a 94-over par score of 958 at Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Ind. No. 22 and host Purdue won the tournament with a score of 895, good for 31-over par. No. 20 Michigan State and No. 23 Notre Dame rounded out the top three.

“This is the toughest golf course we see all year,” head coach Renee Slone said. “It’s a lot of golf course, and some girls can find it very intimidating, especially some holes. It’s definitely one of those courses that you’ve got to have your ‘A’ game at because it’s very penal. If you miss a spot you can easily end up with a double bogey, and we certainly made a lot of those during the tournament. That makes it difficult to make a good number, because that’s a lot of negatives to make up. When you make a lot of mistakes and don’t have many opportunities to make up for them, they sure add up quickly.”

In addition to the team’s mistakes, the Illini lacked a true anchor in this tournament, somebody who could step up and put a few quality individual scores on their cards. Freshman Samantha Sloan was the highest finisher for Illinois, tying for 29th at 20-over par. Sloan entered Sunday’s final round in a tie for 47th and made a nice jump with a 77.

“I guess overall I’m pleased,” Sloan said of her individual play. “I had a bad first round but came back and played a lot better today. I hit the ball well but the course management was bad across the board I think.”

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    Next for the Illini was freshman Hailey Koschmann, who had finished in the top 20 in each of her first three collegiate tournaments, yet finished tied for 39th at 23-over at the Lady Northern. Sophomore Raquel Hopton finished tied for 50th, and senior Nancy Featherstone and freshman Nora Lucas tied for 62nd.

    “There was a lot of course management that we had to deal with, and I know that’s something we’re going to work on,” Sloan said. “It’s a big thing, and I think we were just hitting it to the wrong spots.”

    Despite Slone calling the Kampen Course “one of the most challenging golf courses in the nation” last week, her team was brimming with confidence entering the Lady Northern.

    “And once again, we just have not really been able to perform in competition, when it really counts,” Slone said. “Qualifying is a little different situation than a national tournament, and we’re working on trying to find a way to make it more similar so the girls can go into both with the same mindset.”

    When asked what could be done to make the experiences similar, Slone laughed.

    “That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Slone said. “That’s the magic question.”