Illinois may go to ‘happy place’ at Cardinal Cup

By Ryan Wilson

TWEET: @IlliniWGolf could hit some musical notes or the beaches at the Cardinal CupRyan Wilson

Some sports are more mental competition than physical. Golf is one of them.

The Illinois women’s golf team is trying to relax for its upcoming golf tournament.

The Illini are coming off its worst finish of the season, and some players left disappointed. They finished 37-over 901 and in 12th place, snapping its streak of two-straight top-10

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The team flew to Boerne, Texas, which is 45 minutes west of San Antonio, to play in its first 54-hole tournament on the season. Sophomore Dana Gattone said such factors may have contributed to the team’s finish. She shot 18-over and finished 63rd in the tournament.

“We just didn’t get off to as great of a start as we hoped in the round,” she said. “I think while we tried to pick up some ground, some of us made a couple mistakes along the way, and it costs us a little bit.”

Gattone shot 9-over in the first round. She also went 5- and 6-over in the second and third rounds, respectively.

Head coach Renee Slone also said the team was disappointed after the Jim West Challenge, but it should think about the present and not get caught up in previous scores.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Slone said. “We need to stay focused on the process and what’s right in front of us, and what we are going to continue to get better and better each and everyday.”

The Illini routinely do yoga and Pilates in the offseason. They will sometimes meditate and perform breathing exercises through a program called HeartMath. HeartMath is a program that tries to stabilize one’s emotion.

Slone has said throughout the season that the team needs to take more “mental breaks.” She said the players need to breath and not think about the competition between shots. For some, it helps to sing in their head.

“Others have different key words that relax them, some will practice different breathing techniques that help keep them calm,” Slone said. “Some others will go to a so-called happy place, whatever that place may be. Maybe it is the beach.”

Besides the mental aspect of the game, Illinois has practiced putting and chipping for the Cardinal Cup. The team is new to the tournament in Louisville, Ky., so Slone said she is relying on pictures of the course on the Internet.

She said putting speed and control will be important on this course, as the greens are large. She held a nine hole, par 3 course in which she placed cups in different areas of the green at practice.

Even then, Slone said the team needs should make adjustments when it arrives in Louisville.

“Practice rounds will be very important to take good notes and create a strong game plan for each player as far as how they are going to manage their game,” she said. “So we’ll go down and be well prepared and then enjoy the opportunity of competing on the golf course.”

Illinois tees off at the Cardinal Cup on Oct. 19.

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