Illinois women’s golf gains momentum on final round of Westbrook Invitational

By Josh Pietsch, Staff Writer

The Illini women’s golf team traveled down south to Peoria, Arizona last weekend for the team’s second match of the spring season for the Westbrook Invitational hosted by Wisconsin. The Illini placed 9th out of 16 teams. 

Unlike their first match of the season, the Illini didn’t get out to a good start. Day one consisted of two rounds, and after playing those holes, Illinois found itself in 14th place. Head coach Renee Slone said the Illini worked on things specifically for this course in Arizona, primarily putting, but the execution wasn’t there the first day.

“We put ourselves in position that first day a number of times, and we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” Slone said. “It was a matter of converting those birdies on the green and we didn’t take advantage.” 

Despite having a near nightmare-scenario in the first two rounds, the Illini bounced back on day two and showed improvement across the board on round three. The Illini shot well enough to put themselves under par by three strokes, and move up five spots to finish the tournament in ninth place. 

“It really came down to putting (in the final round), we were finally able to hit some putts,” Slone said. “The first day I saw a lot of good shots but we just didn’t convert, we capitalized on our opportunities far more in that last round.” 

Although both invites this year haven’t lived up to expectations for the Illini, there are still bright spots to be proud of for upcoming invites. The final round was a good one for the team, and the Illini hope to carry that momentum to the next course, which lies ahead of them soon.

“We leave Saturday for Florida so it’s a relatively quick turn around, and that can be really good for us right now,” Slone said. “We’re headed to a golf course that we’ve never seen before, so since there are no real expectations for it, we can put an emphasis on the places we struggled but hopefully carry over what we did do well.” 

With a travel day Monday and an off day Tuesday, the Illini only have two real days to practice before going down south again to compete. Although they’re emphasizing things as a team, Slone said “a lot of that time is going to be focused on individual training, determining what each individual needs to really focus her time and attention on.” 

The Illini have another  chance to bounce back early next week. The team will travel down to Coral Gables, Florida to golf in the Hurricane Invitational. The event will be hosted by the University of Miami and will be played Monday and Tuesday.

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