Illinois women’s golf trending in right direction

By Lucas Wright

The Illini women’s golf team struggled through the 2014-15 season, but saw improvement from last year’s less-than-stellar campaign.

The team came into the season with little playing experience, routinely starting three freshmen and two sophomores. However, periodically a few Illini seniors would step in and join the lineup.

The fall season was when the Illini did the most of their damage throughout the year.ss

Illinois opened its season at the Colonel Wollenberg Ram Fall Classic on Sept. 8-9 with a third-place finish at 17-over par 881. Freshman Dana Gattone led the team with a score of one-over 217 on the tournament. Following Gattone, sophomore Stephanie Miller posted a 4-over 220 and freshman Grace Park with a 5-over 221.ss

The Illini struggled at their next event, the Minnesota Invitational, carding an opening-round 319, which was a tournament high score. Illinois failed to have a player finish in the top 20.ss

The Illinois season hit its peak at the Diane Thomason Invitational on Oct. 4-5. The Illini defended their title in Iowa City, Iowa. Gattone took home individual medalist honors with a 10-over 226. The Illini as a whole shot 57-over 917 on the three rounds and posted the only sub-300 team round of the tournament, 3-over 291 in the final round.ss

The streaking Illini continued their success at the Hoosier Fall Invitational two weeks later, where they notched their second win of the season. The tournament consisted of a stroke-play round followed by a tournament-style match-play portion. Out of the eight-team field, the Illini were the third seed going into the match-play portion. Illinois went on to beat No. 6 Boston College, No. 1 Indiana and No. 4 Fresno State to win the title.ss

Following two-straight victories, Illinois fell flat at the Jim West Challenge in Boerne, Texas, on Nov. 2-3. The team finished eighth in a field of 12 to cap off its fall season. Miller led the team with a 10th place finish, shooting 8-over 224.ss

Possibly the lone bright spot for the Illini in the spring season was their opening match win against Illinois State in the Illinois Challenge. Illinois won 8-4 in match play and four-ball competition over the Redbirds. The win was the seventh-straight victory for the Illini in the Illinois Challenge.ss

The next two matches, the Westbrook Spring Invitational and the Hurricane Invitational, were both rough finishes for Illinois, as it finished eighth and tenth, respectively. However, freshman Jan Prapassarangkul put herself on the map with two-straight top-three finishes, shooting 3-under 213 at the Westbrook Spring Invitational and 1-over 214 at the Hurricane Invitational.ss

Illinois leveled out its play throughout the next three tournaments, placing fifth, fifth and sixth at the Briar’s Creek Invitational, Web.com Intercollegiate and Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational, respectively.ss

The Illini entered the Big Ten Championship as the sixth seed and appeared to have a chance to finish near the top, but they shot 302-303-302 on their way to a ninth-place finish in the 14-team field. Prapassarangkul led the team with a score of 5-over 221 and a 16th-place finish.ss

The Illini underperformed in the final match of the year and failed to qualify for the NCAA Regional; however, they improved from last season and appear to be trending in the right direction.

Illinois will bring back all five of its starters for next year and appear poised to make the climb up the Big Ten.

[email protected] [email protected]