Illinois women’s golf set to take on Ohio State at away game

Illinois women’s golf senior Samantha Sloan is eager to register a strong showing in the final regular season tournament of her collegiate career.

The Illini will be competing against 11 schools at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational on Saturday and Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.

Seniors Hailey Koschmann, Nora Lucas, Katelin Dilger, sophomore Ember Schuldt and freshman Michelle Mayer will be competing for the Illini alongside Sloan. This is the final regular season competition before the Big Ten Championships begin on April 27.

“We have a huge competitive edge, we’ve been playing really well and we’re right on the edge of greatness, I guess you could say,” Sloan said. “We have been playing some really good rounds together, so we’re really, really close.”

The challenging 6,248-yard, par-71 Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club is one that the Illini are most familiar with as this has become a regular trip on the slate.

“I couldn’t tell you how many years we’ve played in this tournament for,” head coach Renee Slone said. “Our team is very familiar with this golf course and understands the keys to success.”

“This course is a bit more difficult (than one’s we’ve seen) and takes a lot more thinking,” Sloan said.

Illinois placed seventh out of 12 teams in this tournament last year and is hoping for a better finish this time around.

“The experience we have there is definitely helpful for our preparation for the tournament,” Slone said.

After finishing the Knights and Pirates Invitational in the middle of the pack, the Illini are pushing for a good finish to build some momentum for the postseason.

“Of course we’re eager to play well because it’s the end of the season now,” Sloan said. “There are four seniors traveling right now, so we want to finish off well.”

Physically, the Illini have prepared for the tournament as they usually do, emphasizing on short game. They have also worked on putting — something they have been turning the notch up on lately.

“A couple of specific things we’ve been doing are really working on three- to five-foot putts, and also working around the greens,” Slone said. “Longer putts that have a lot more contour to them, whether it’s big breaks or going one tier to another tier on a green, are included in that as well.”

The Illini are pushing to do well because the team could be making another trip to Columbus in the near future.

“We’re always looking forward to every tournament,” Slone said, “But one thing about this particular event is that one of the NCAA Regionals sites is at Ohio State, so we very possibly could be returning to this course in just a couple of weeks for that.”

The tournament will begin Saturday morning with two rounds, followed by the final round Sunday.