Illinois women’s golf looks to build off success at Westbrook Spring Invitational

The Illinois women’s golf team will compete in the Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria, Ariz., on Sunday and Monday.

The Illini will face 11 other schools in their first stroke play tournament of the season. Competitors for Illinois in the event include Samantha Sloan, Hailey Koschmann, Nora Lucas, Ember Schuldt and Katie Dilger.

The tournament will take place at the Westbrook Village Golf Club, which holds two courses: the Lakes course and the Vistas course. On Sunday the Illini will play 18-hole couples on the 6,366 yard, par 71 Lakes course starting at 11 a.m.; they will play 9-hole couples on the back nine of the 6,432 yard, par 72 Vistas course starting at 8:30 a.m.

The Illini competed for the first time this spring in the Illinois Challenge on Feb. 4 against Illinois State, resulting in a 6.5-5.5 match-play victory over the Redbirds.

Senior Samantha Sloan and head coach Renee Slone commented on the length of the course, saying that some of the holes were of shorter length so they have been working on their short game to adjust for that.

“We have been focusing a lot on short game, specifically putting,” Slone said. “And we also have been spending quite a bit of our team practice time working on wedges and short irons.”

The course contains numerous par-3 and shorter par-4 holes.

“It does look like, through the course layout, that a few of the holes will require the use of those clubs,” Slone said.

Illinois is also looking forward to seeing how its recent focus in practice on cutting down putts will work out.

“We’ve been working on that big time because when we would break our game down and look at our stats, we saw that we had way too many putts,” Sloan said.

With this being their first of five stroke play tournaments, the question of nervousness and pressure to get off to a good start arises. But the Illini are confident in their abilities following a successful finish to the fall season.

“I don’t know that anyone is feeling pressure because we made it to regionals and we did a lot of great things,” Sloan said. “But we’re going to try to step it up a notch. There is pressure in that sense, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

The Illini are confident that they can do well in the tournament and throughout the season, but they want to remain focused and not look too far ahead.

“If we just focus on ourselves and take care of the little things that we do on a daily basis, the results will come,” Slone said. “It’s just focusing on one tournament at a time, that’s the only thing within our control.”