Women’s golf stumbles in preview of Big Ten’s course

The Illinois women’s golf team placed seventh of 12 teams at the Lady Northern Invitational on Tuesday in French Lick, Ind. The Illini finished with an overall score of 924 (72-over-par), after a few inconsistent rounds of play.

The field was led by UCF, with a team score of 887, followed by Ohio state (892) and Big Ten rival Michigan (893).

“There was a lot to be desired.” Illinois head coach Renee Slone said. “We had some good rounds by individuals in the tournament, but we did not post a solid team round in any of the three rounds.”

Senior Samantha Sloan led the Illini for the second straight tournament, shooting a 17-over 230 in the three rounds, finishing tied for 30th with sophomore teammate Ember Schuldt.

The sophomore had a strong start, placing her best score (a 2-over 73) in the first round of play, but was unable to maintain that momentum, shooting 79 and 78 in her final two rounds.

“My first round was pretty solid at 73, so I was pretty happy with that,” Schuldt said. “The following two rounds I felt like the course was set up so that you had to manage your misses, and the following two, where my misses were at, it was a little bit tougher to score well from there.”

Unlike Schuldt, Sloan posted her best score in the third round, also shooting a 73. Only two strokes behind Sloan and Schuldt, senior Hailey Koschmann posted a 19-over 232 overall.

Koschmann fell from 26th overall during the first two rounds of play with a 9-over 80 third round, placing her in 33rd. Also competing were senior Katelin Dilger, who finished the tournament tied for 44th (237), and freshman Michelle Mayer (242).

The Illini attributed the high scoring to the lengthy greens at French Lick Golf Course. “The greens really made the golf course, and so being on the correct side of the hole was extremely important, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that all the time,” Slone said.

The Orange and Blue will undoubtedly face the course again, with French Lick being the site of the 2012 conference championships.

“This is where Big Ten Championship is, so it was very beneficial to see this golf course because it is the type of golf course where the more you see it the more you learn, and the better plan we can get as far as how to attack this golf course,” Slone said.

Despite another tournament of disappointing play, the strong individual performances and the knowledge gained from playing a challenging course have the Illini ready for their next challenge.

“Overall, I’m still happy with how things worked out — it could have been a lot worse,” Schuldt said. “We didn’t quite get what we wanted, but I think it’ll be another building step for the next tournament.”