Illinois women's golf dominates Illinois State in match-play event

By Benjy Sabitt

The Illinois women’s golf team won for the eighth-straight year at the Illinois Challenge, a match-play exhibition against Illinois State, over the weekend.EJ

But things were a bit different this season: The Illini didn’t drop a match to the Redbirds for the first time in the competition’s history.EJ

This is the Illini’s first competitive golf since the conclusion of the fall season in late October. They saw this as an opportunity to build confidence and work on some things that they have been doing during the break.

“We putted well,” said head coach Renee Slone.EJ “We’re showing positive signs, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Slone has been preaching mental toughness to her team and said that she felt the team stayed positive throughout the day.

The match-play tournament has two parts: four-ball and individual matches. The four-ball matches gave the team a chance to play with a partner, and Slone felt that took the edge off for some players.

“For some it took the pressure off,” Slone said. “Just knowing that somebody else had their back.”

Sophomore Grace Park played with Pailin Ruttanasupagid, and won their four-ball match by the highest margin of 5-and-4.EJ Park echoed her coach’s words about playing with a partner.

“It was comforting,” Park said. “If I messed up a hole Pailin had my back and if she messed up a hole I would have hers.”

The four-ball also gave each pairing a chance to strategize with each other.

“We just played to our strengths,” Park said. “Pailin is a long hitter and I’m a straight hitter so I felt that played out well for us, when Pailin would miss-hit a shot I felt I could back her up.”

The team swept all three of the four-ball matches.EJ Stephanie Miller and Bing Singhsumalee won their match 3-and-1 while Dana Gattone and Chayanid Prapassarangkul won 2-and-1.EJ

After four-ball the team went on to individual play, where they matched up with one person from Illinois State. The Illini did not lose a single match in this competition either.

Stephanie Miller defeated Courtney Cosset 4-and-3, Bing Singhsumalee defeated Caitlin Sims 4-and-2 and Grace Park defeated Renee Holberg 5-and-3.EJ Dana Gattone defeated Abby Lucktenburg 3-and-2, Chayanid Prapassarangkul defeated Maggie Ambrose 3-and-2 and Pailin Ruttanasupagid tied in her match against Kiley Walsh.EJ

Illinois will look to build on this exhibition, and hope that the momentum carries over to tournament play.

“We feel a lot better after what we were able to do here,” Park said. “We’re ready for tournament play.”

The Illini have a short week of practice before they start the spring season next weekend at the Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria, Arizona.EJ

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