Women’s golf breaks records at Medinah

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Women’s golf breaks records at Medinah

Freshman Crystal Wang hits the ball at the Illini Women's Invite at Medinah. Wang and he teammates accomplished the program's best single round score.

Freshman Crystal Wang hits the ball at the Illini Women's Invite at Medinah. Wang and he teammates accomplished the program's best single round score.

Freshman Crystal Wang hits the ball at the Illini Women's Invite at Medinah. Wang and he teammates accomplished the program's best single round score.

Freshman Crystal Wang hits the ball at the Illini Women's Invite at Medinah. Wang and he teammates accomplished the program's best single round score.

By Gabby Hajduk, Contributing Writer

The Illinois women’s golf team hosted their first tournament in 10 years in Medinah at the beginning of the week. The team continued its solid start to the season, finishing third, below Purdue and Kent State.

Along with the team’s top-3 finish in a competitive field, the Illini broke multiple records. On Monday, the team posted a second round score of 280 (-8), which is now the program’s best single round score. The previous record was seven-under-par.

Leading the Illini to the top once again was freshman Crystal Wang, who tied for fourth place posting a score of 208 with a career-high 12 birdies. Her eight-under-par finish is also a career best, giving her the second lowest 54-hole tournament in program history.

“The first day I was hitting a lot of green, so I had a lot of birdie chances,” Wang said. “I was making most of my putts, which helped me a bit.”

Wang has been the Illini’s top scorer in all three of their fall tournaments so far. Despite her freshman status, Wang has been able to keep her cool in high-pressure situations, always finding a way to convert. She believes her success stems from her focus on the moment rather than the leaderboard.

“I don’t think too much about my score until the end,” Wang said. “I just force myself not to think about the score and to focus on the hole itself. I know thinking about how well I am doing will not make me play better, so I try to avoid it.”

Head Coach Renee Slone agrees with Wang as she stated Wang’s simple approach and calm demeanor lead to fewer mistakes, helping her capitalize on birdie opportunities.

The other standout freshman, Kornkamol Sukaree, joined Wang at the top again, tying for seventh. Sukaree shot an over-par round in the first, but quickly moved up 23 spots in the individual rankings after posting a second round score of four-under-par, her career best.

Sukaree’s second round score (68) ties for the tenth-lowest individual score in program history. The freshman also made history with her final score, 210(-6), tying for the program’s third-best 54-hole individual total. Her final score was generated by a career-high 11 birdies and an ability to minimize mistakes, only shooting four holes over-par.

Setting these records did not come easy for Sukaree.  She said she has been improving on her approach shot which helped her this tournament. Sukaree was able to hit the green frequently, setting her up for many birdie opportunities, which she capitalized on.

Senior Bing Singhsumalee made her way into the top-15, tying for 13th place. Singhsumalee posted a second round score of 69(-3) which included three birdies, and no holes over-par. The senior posted nine birdies overall, and did not post around above even-par.

Rounding out the Illinois lineup were junior Tristyn Nowlin and sophomore Ali Morallos. Nowlin finished one-over-par(217), after climbing 27 spots in the individual rankings following the first day. Posting four birdies in the third round, Nowlin shot a round of three-under-par, pushing her to tie at 27th. Morallos finished with a score of 223(+7), tying for 57th.

“(The team competed) with patience and a lot of great iron play,” said Slone. “The team had a lot of terrific approach shots. We were able to capitalize on a lot of them. I know we wanted to be able to capitalize on a few more. All and all, the team had a very good tournament.”

With Illinois hosting the tournament, freshmen Lauren Nay and Katie Hallinan competed as individuals, playing in their first college tournament. Nay started off strong in the first round with an even-par score, then posted four birdies in the second round. Hallinan hit her stride Monday afternoon, recording a second round score of 71 (-1). Nay and Hallinan finished 78th and tied at 74th, respectively.

“(Playing a college tournament) was actually exactly what I expected because I know enough people who have played in these tournaments who have told me what to expect from it, so that guidance helped,” Nay said. “I have learned that with 36 holes in one day, my energy wasn’t as high as it was (Monday) so I need to learn how to maintain that with sleep and other things.

The Illini will take a short break before competing again on Oct. 20-21 at the Cardinal Cup, hosted by the University of Louisville. Last season, Illinois placed second out of 15 teams in the tournament.

“We are going to continue to work on putting, a lot, and finding a way to get the ball in the hole,” said Slone. “We also have to take the course we are playing at into account, down at Louisville.”

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