Women’s golf turns attention to Big Ten Championships

Senior+Bing+Singhsumalee+hits+a+ball+at+the+Ohio+State+University+Golf+Club+in+Columbus%2C+Ohio+in+April+2018.+Singhsumalee%2C+the+lone+senior+on+the+team%2C+anticipates+unpredictable+conditions+on+the+course+this+year+despite+having+played+on+the+same+course+in+the+past.

Photo courtesy of Mark Jones

Senior Bing Singhsumalee hits a ball at the Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio in April 2018. Singhsumalee, the lone senior on the team, anticipates unpredictable conditions on the course this year despite having played on the same course in the past.

By Rachel Spencer, Staff Writer

The Illini return to Ohio this weekend, this time to play in the Big Ten Championships. The three-day tournament will be held at TPC River’s Bend in Maineville, Ohio, Friday to Sunday.

TPC River’s Bend hosted the Big Ten Championship the previous year, where the Illini finished in the middle of the field at seventh place. The conference foe Michigan State took home the title in 2017.

For the Illini, returning to the tournament and River’s Bend this year are junior Bing Singhsumalee, and seniors Dana Gattone, Grace Park and Chayanid Prapassarangkul.

Fortunately for the Illini, the team has momentum behind them as they head into the weekend. Coming off back-to-back first-place tournament finishes, women’s golf has made a strong showing before the postseason begins. Notably, when play concluded at the Lady Buckeye Invitational last weekend, Illinois came out on top over seven Big Ten teams.

“The entire season we’ve really focused a lot on energy and positivity,” said head coach Renee Slone. “We’re just continuing to focus on those things and treat this as another golf tournament in our preparations and doing all the little things that have enabled us to be successful so far.”

An important motivator for the Illini this season has been their motto, “One Team, Seven Strong,” a saying the team came up with at the start of the season.

With the first tournament of the postseason on the horizon, Gattone said what the motto means to her and her teammates.

“I would say, going into the Big Ten, it’s one of the little mottos that we have just to remind each other to play for our team and play for our university,” Gattone said. “And since we are such a small team with only seven of us, each of us has made such an impact throughout the year, and with all the work we’ve done, it’s just kind of our chance to go out there as one team and enjoy it.”

But enjoying the Big Ten Championships won’t come without facing TPC River’s Bend — one of the toughest courses the Illini will play this season. Not only does the course play long, but the course has thick rough surrounding the fairways, with plenty of fairway bunkers and greens guarded by water hazards.

Slone says approaching River’s Bend all comes down to how a player handles the course — something Illinois received practice on at the Lady Buckeye Invitational.

“I think Ohio State was great preparation for TPC River’s Bend,” Slone said. “It will require a solid game plan, course management skills and positioning. The practice round, as always, will be instrumental in helping us determine what exactly those game plans will be for each particular hole because a fair amount of that will depend upon the conditions that we face.”

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