Texas trip tough on Illini women's golf

By Ryan Wilson

The Illinois women’s golf team opened this season with two-straight top-10 finishes. But at the Jim West Challenge, the team didn’t rank in the top 10 after any round.

“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunity holes for birdies,” head coach Renee Slone said.

Illinois shot 37-over 908 at the Jim West Challenge, finishing 12th of the 13 teams participating. The Illini ended one stroke behind 11th-place Texas State and seven strokes ahead of the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Grace Park led the Illini, finishing in 23rd place and shooting 5-over. Park shot 1-under in the last round to jump 17 positions in the leaderboard that day.

Jan Prapassarangkul and Bing Singhsumalee finished tied for 36th, after going 8-over. Prapassarangkul went 3-under the second round, which ties Stephanie Miller for the lowest score in the event in Illinois history.

Miller finished 69th at this year’s tournament with 24-over. She shot 9-over 81 and 11-over 83 in her first and third rounds, respectively. Miller tied her worst finish in her college career.

Dana Gattone shot her second worst college score with 18-over on the tournament. She finished 63rd overall.

“Each round we were able to get solid rounds from a couple of different players,” Slone said. “But we never had a third or fourth player posting a low score.”

The team scored the second-fewest (26) birdies on the tournament. The Illini carded 22 in the Marsh Landing Invitational.

Illinois practiced at the Urbana Country Club for this year’s Jim West Challenge. Slone said that course’s layout of mature trees is most similar to the one on which they competed this weekend.

She said ball placement on each shot was important for the Tapatio Springs Resort in Texas. Illinois shot 6-over — 5-over in the third round — on Hole 18, which has trees in the middle of its fairways.

“This tournament, and the quality of the field, came at a great point to find out where our team was at,” Slone said. “This provides us a plan of attack moving forward and gave us an opportunity to learn things, both in the physical game as well as mental, which is going to greatly benefit us moving forward to the rest of our schedule.”

The Illini went 58-over to finish eighth at last year’s Jim West Challenge. Each player shot within three strokes of each other, with Miller and then-senior Samantha Postillion tying at 4-over.

Kent State, who Golfweek ranks No. 9 in the country, shot 12-under to win this year’s Jim West Challenge. The team finished 12 strokes ahead of second place Florida State.

“What this tournament confirmed is that this team is filled with players capable of producing low scores,” Slone said.

The Illini’s next competition is the Cardinal Cup on Oct. 19 in Simpsonville, Kentucky.

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