Illinois women's golf begins tournament season Sunday

By Benjy Sabitt

Tweet: Illini ready for spring season

The Illinois women’s golf team will travel across the country this week. 

The Illini left Florida on Sunday and are heading to Arizona for the Westbrook Spring Invitational this Sunday. 

Despite the busy week, head coach Renee Slone refuses to use that as an excuse for her players.

“We have basically had the last three and a half months off,” Slone said. “We should be excited, eager, and motivated to get back into competitive play.”

Sophomore Pailin Ruttanasupagid said the Illini spent all week making sure they have nothing but golf on their minds.

“We’re taking responsibility for getting sleep and catching up on homework,” Ruttanasupagid said. “That way we can focus on competing whatever our schedule is.”

The Westbrook Spring Invitational, hosted by Wisconsin, is a two day event starting on Sunday. The field will start with the conventional golf course on Sunday, and then play the links golf course on Monday.

The links course can prove to be more of a challenge than a traditional course.

“It can be a lot windier on a links course, so accuracy plays a bigger role,” sophomore Dana Gattone said. “There’s more of an emphasis on not leaving the longer putts.”

Slone said that she actually thinks this course can play in her team’s advantage. The course has many short par 5 and par 4 holes that she believes can offer birdie opportunities for her team.

The Illini have had some success at this event in the past. They came in first place in 2012. They finished in eighth place out of 15 teams last year but have many players returning to the course for the second time.

“Last year I thought we played really great,” Gattone said. “We were able to put ourselves in position to compete on the last day, so hopefully we’ll be able to do even more this year.”

Slone also believes that experience on a certain golf course can prove to be beneficial in general.

“It’s helpful to have knowledge of a golf course,” Slone said. “I think there’s some comfort to go along with that and now we know what to expect.”

The Westbrook Spring Invitational has 15 teams participating this year: College of Charleston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, SMU, UNLV, Washington State, and host Wisconsin.

The Illini will try to use the momentum they gained from last week’s 8.5-.5 win of Illinois State.

“I thought we played really well last week, it was even hard to see how well we played because it was a match-play event so our scores for each round weren’t posted,” Gattone said. “I know in 2012 we came in first and had the individual champion and I know that if we build off of what we did last week and last year we can come close to that.”

Slone said the schedule was done purposefully.

“Last week was set up by design to get us into the swing of things,” Slone said. “Now we’re more ready to compete.”

Slone said that she thinks this tournament is a great place to get the season started and get back into a competitive mindset.

“Our goal is to win the tournament,” Ruttanasupagid said.

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