Nowlin learns, grows from competition


Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Tristyn Nowlin swings at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia. She finished 9-over-par overall.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

Illini junior golfer Tristyn Nowlin competed at Augusta National’s first women’s amateur this week. According to her biography on the Augusta National Women’s Amateur site, this isn’t Nowlin’s first foray into prestigious amateur tournaments; Nowlin was a runner-up at the Women’s Western National Amateur Championship this past summer.


April 3 was the first day of competition at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, but the first two rounds of the tournament were held at Champions Retreat. Nowlin had previously played the front nine of Champions Retreat, so she had an idea of what to expect in the first two rounds.

“I actually wasn’t nervous,” Nowlin said. “It’s just been so long since I’ve been competing; it’s been five months. I was just more excited to hit the ball than anything.”

After the first day of competition, Nowlin was 4-over-par and tied for 40th place. The top-30 will make the cut.

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Nowlin finished with a score of 77 in the second round, finishing 9-over-par for the tournament in total. She didn’t make the final cut but noticed of the 36 holes she played at the Champions Retreat, there was a stark difference between the front nine and the back nine.

“This course is very unique,” she said. “The front nine is for scoring, and then the back nine is pretty much for getting par and (getting) out.”


Everyone will play at Augusta for a practice round. Even though she didn’t make the final cut, Nowlin will be playing in Augusta anyway. Nowlin said Thursday night she was looking forward to the diversity of the course. 

“TV honestly does not do it justice,” Nowlin said. “Just looking down the first hole, the elevation changes are insane.”

In the practice round, Nowlin observed that the elevation changes were extreme, explaining the 10th hole had a 110-foot difference.

“It was an unreal experience,” she said. “It was in pristine shape (and) just absolutely perfect.”


Nowlin stayed in Augusta for the final round, which featured a variety of events to mark the significance of the tournament, including a first tee with golfers Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Nancy Lopez and Se-Ri Pak. All of them are in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Nowlin observed play Saturday and was also present for the trophy ceremony. Jennifer Kupcho, who currently golfs at Wake Forest University, won the trophy and will be eligible to compete in several other tournaments, including the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2019 British Women’s Open.

“Initially, they were only supposed to sell 4,000 tickets, and I think they ended up selling over 22,000,” Nowlin said. “Just watching some of my friends be able to go out there and compete at Augusta National, that was really exciting.”

Following play on Saturday, Nowlin traveled to Sunset, South Carolina, where the Illini women’s golf team will be competing in a tournament this Monday and Tuesday. Leaving Augusta, Nowlin said she will be seeking to work on hitting bunker shots.

“I still need to work on bunker play,” she said. “I got into a couple of predicaments where I just didn’t have enough sand.”



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