Women’s golf pics up first win of season

By Gabby Hajduk, Contributing Writer

At the beginning of the week, the No. 23 Illinois women’s golf team competed at the Coeur D’Alene Collegiate Resort in Idaho, hosted by Gonzaga University. The Illini finished at the top of the 18-team field, earning their first win of the season.

The Illini took an early lead after the first round but hit their stride in the second by posting a 6-under-par score of 278. Illinois’ round made the record books as it ties for the program’s third-lowest single-round score.

Illinois’ victory was led by freshman Crystal Wang, who led the pack heading into the third round with a score of 138 (-4). On Tuesday, Wang was able to keep her composure, finishing the tournament 1-under-par and tying for second place.

“I don’t think too much about the score when I’m out there,” said Wang. “I just play like each round is a new round. I try to play the best I can each round.”

To go along with her 212 finish, Wang posted 12 birdies throughout the tournament, 10 of those being within the first two rounds. Wang’s second-round score of 3-under-par is the best single-round score of her collegiate career.

Senior Bing Singhsumalee and sophomore Ali Morallos both had prior experience with the course, finishing with last year’s team in second place at the invitational. The experience paid off and landed both golfers a top-10 finish this time around.

“I think this year we really came together and put a low number on the first day,” said Morallos. “We put ourselves in a better position than last year to really be comfortable in the last day and come out with a win.”

Morallos and Singhsumalee attribute their success to sticking to their individual game plans. For Morallos, it was trusting all of her shots and not forcing anything, while Singhsumalee believed staying patient and consistent with her swing helped get the job done.

Tying for 13th and finishing 4-over-par were junior Tristyn Nowlin and freshman Kornkamol Sukaree. Both Illini posted a round of 2-under-par, Nowlin’s being in the first round and Sukaree’s in the second. Nowlin also led the team in birdies, with 13, while Sukaree posted nine.

As a team, the Illini posted 852 after three rounds, finishing with the eighth lowest 54-hole tournament team score in program history. Along with their even-par score, the Illini posted 52 birdies.

The success this week gives the Illini a positive attitude moving forward.

“It definitely is a huge confidence boost especially going off a tougher tournament last week in Tennessee,” said Singhsumalee. “Just coming out and shooting two under-par rounds is really good. It is just a good snowball into the rest of the season.”

Following back-to-back weeks of play, the team will take a break until Oct. 6, when the Illini will host the Illini Women’s Invitational in Medinah. The short break will give the team time to make any necessary improvements.

“(The team needs) to focus on the short game, wedge work and finding a way to minimize those big numbers,” said head coach Renee Slone. “(Monday), we had a number of birdies, which is great, but we need to minimize our mistakes.”

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