Young team will be key to success in upcoming Big Ten Championships


Photo courtesy of Mark Jones

Senior Bing Singhsumalee hits a ball at the Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio in April 2018. Singhsumalee, the lone senior on the team, anticipates unpredictable conditions on the course this year despite having played on the same course in the past.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

The Illinois women’s golf team is going back to Maineville, Ohio, for the Big Ten Championships Friday through Sunday. The team will be making its second trip to Ohio after facing Ohio State last weekend.

The Big Ten Championships have been held at the Maineville course for the past three years, so the experienced players on the team have played at the Arnold Palmer-designed course before. 

In the tournament, the Illini will see strong competition similar to last weekend’s tournament, which featured teams such as Michigan State, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota and Rutgers.

Illinois squared off against Wisconsin earlier in the season at a tournament in Arizona. The team played against Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State and Iowa in the same tournament. The Illini finished third, two strokes behind the tournament winner, Nebraska.

The Illini have seen most of the teams in the Big Ten this spring, and teams like the Spartans and the Wildcats are known to be tough opponents. According to Golfstat, Michigan State and Northwestern are ranked No. 19 and No. 16, respectively, in the NCAA Division I as of Tuesday.

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Last season, Illinois tied for second with Maryland at the Big Ten tournament, losing to Michigan State by four strokes. The Spartans will look to repeat as tournament champions again this year. 

A young roster will be the key in the Illini’s success this weekend. The Illini are a youthful team, with senior Bing Singhsumalee being the lone senior on the roster. Five of the eight team members are freshmen this year, with Ali Morallos being the only sophomore and Tristyn Nowlin as the only junior.

Head coach Renee Slone said there were similarities between the course in Columbus and in Maineville. However, she also mentioned the greens at the Big Ten tournament could be challenging for the Illini, particularly due to its size.

“It’s a great test,” Slone said. “(It) provides an opportunity to really hit every club in your bag.”

Slone said she thought it was beneficial for the team to play at Ohio State for their final regular season tournament. Last season, the Illini won the Lady Buckeye Invitational and ended the regular season with the tournament for many years.

The more experienced Illini have played at TPC River’s Bend before, but Singhsumalee thought despite having played the course in the past, conditions might change on the course this time around. This weekend, Singhsumalee is anticipating the course conditions might be unpredictable.

“Hopefully, it’ll be nice, but you never really know,” Singhsumalee said. “Just keeping it blank and just going in prepared for any weather situation.”


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