Miller and Singhsumalee boost Illini women’s golf’s chemistry

By Ryan Wilson

Stephanie Miller, a junior on the Illinois women’s golf team, joked about dumping dried Korean squid down teammate Bing Singhsumalee’s bag Tuesday.

“It’ll smell like fish for a while,” Miller said, jokingly. “Yum!”

It’s not hard to notice Singhsumalee and Miller’s friendship, which started when the two were playing junior golf before high school. The two met at the World UTeam Challenge, which used to be organized by Singhsumalee’s dad, Pete. Miller played in the tournament, while Singhsumalee, who is two years younger, watched the action.

Then, as they got older, Singhsumalee, a Naperville native, and Miller, of Elgin, played together in junior and high school golf tournaments.

“It helped create a nice friendship,” Miller said.

But when it was time for college, Miller approximated that she was 75 percent of the reason why Singhsumalee chose to attend Illinois.

“There, you’ve got a percentage,” Miller said, laughing. “I’d like to believe its true, but who knows?”

Singhsumalee said she chose the U of I for several different reasons — Miller was one of them.

Miller and Singhsumalee talk about their similar personalities and humor when asked about their noticeable friendship.

“I called her my baby Bing,” Miller said.

The two eat, practice, joke and compete together. They don’t live together, but Miller sometimes invites the team over to her apartment for dinner, building on the strong team’s chemistry.

“When you’re such a small team, I think it’s easy for one or two players to get left out,” sophomore Dana Gattone said. “We’ve never really had that.”

This positive team environment has, of course, led to more joking among players.

While Gattone was giving interviews during the team’s ride home from the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship on Tuesday, her teammates disrupted her concentration to the point of laughter.

Singhsumalee, a freshman, said she has not had much time to play jokes on Miller.

They all take golf seriously. They all push each other to succeed.

“It’s nice, I guess,” Singhsumalee said with a chuckle when asked about being on the same team with Miller. “I love her. She is awesome.”

The two have friendly competitions at practice when they work on their short games.

Singhsumalee said they aren’t able to finish their competitions due to other responsibilities, but added that the pair tie most of the time.

The Illini finished in the top-10 of their first two competitions of the season. Singhsumalee and Miller total season scores are separated by only two strokes. Singhsumalee shot 6-under in the first round of the Minnesota Invitational, tying the lowest score in Illinois history in her first round of college golf.

Miller watched Singhsumalee during breaks. When Miller couldn’t watch, her dad, Alan, ran back and forth between the two, updating his daughter on Singhsumalee’s performance.

“She’s like another daughter to him,” Miller said.

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