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Women’s golf advances to NCAA finals for first time in school history

The+women%27s+golf+team+poses+after+taking+home+first+place+at+the+Cardinal+Cup+Saturday+in+Louisville%2C+Kentucky.+The+team+will+advance+to+the+NCAA+finals+for+the+first+time+in+University+history.
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Women’s golf advances to NCAA finals for first time in school history

The women's golf team poses after taking home first place at the Cardinal Cup Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. The team will advance to the NCAA finals for the first time in University history.

The women's golf team poses after taking home first place at the Cardinal Cup Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. The team will advance to the NCAA finals for the first time in University history.

Photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

The women's golf team poses after taking home first place at the Cardinal Cup Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. The team will advance to the NCAA finals for the first time in University history.

Photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

Photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

The women's golf team poses after taking home first place at the Cardinal Cup Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. The team will advance to the NCAA finals for the first time in University history.

By Claire O’Brien, Staff Writer

The No. 19 Illinois women’s golf team advanced to the NCAA finals Wednesday for the first time in school history. As a No. 7 seed. in the NCAA Regional, Illinois had a deep field of competition, including fellow Big Ten teams Indiana and Michigan State.

This trip to the NCAA championship is the latest development in the Illini’s historic season. Earlier this season, head coach Renee Slone was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, the first coach in school history to receive the accolade.

The Illini, who have been no strangers to less-than-ideal conditions, faced difficult weather during the second day of the regional.

After finishing the first round in third place, the Illini had a trickier day Tuesday, tied for fifth going into the final round.

With the top-six teams advancing, Illinois was able to keep its fifth-place spot and outperformed Big Ten rival Indiana by one stroke.

“When I heard the news (and) realized (what it meant), it was pretty emotional,” Slone said. “Anytime that something is accomplished that has never been done before, it’s quite a feat, and this team has really set some new standards for this program.”

Individually, the Illini had strong performances from freshman Kornkamol Sukaree and junior Tristyn Nowlin. They finished tied for sixth and tenth, respectively, and the duo finished within one stroke of each other.

In Sukaree’s first NCAA tournament, she shot 71, 71 and 74 in each round, respectively. Par for the course was 72, so she ended on par for the tournament.

“It was a great experience,” Sukaree said.

Other Illini who competed this weekend included senior Bing Singhsumalee and freshmen Crystal Wang and Katie Hallinan.

The Illini are rounding out the year after a busy spring, with Nowlin even competing at Augusta National earlier this year in the first Women’s Amateur the golf club has hosted. Nowlin made history earlier this spring, and her team made history Wednesday as they advanced to their first national championship.

“We were basically just jumping up and down, screaming,” Nowlin said. “We’re really, really excited and grateful to have made it, so we’re looking forward to it.

@claire_obrien43

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