Miller shines as women’s golf wins 1st place in weekend invite

In their previous two tournaments, the Illinois women’s golf team placed third and second, respectively. This past weekend, the team was finally able to emerge victorious with a first place finish at the Diane Thomason Invitational.

Illinois’ team consisted of freshmen Emily Joers and Stephanie Miller, juniors Michelle Mayer and Sam Postillion and senior Ember Schuldt. These golfers combined for a total score of 899 (35-over-par), which was good enough to beat 11 other teams at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa.

After ending her last tournament with a second-place finish, Miller was able to grab the individual win. As the competition went on, she managed to improve her score for each round: 74, 70 and 69. To maintain the success she has had to begin her collegiate golf career, Miller just keeps a certain mindset.

“I just play my own game,” Miller said. “It’s just me against the golf course, and at the end, we’ll just see how the scores compare.”

Head coach Renee Slone was proud of the way her freshman standout performed.

“Just played solid tee, green, rolled the ball well, putted well. Short game was terrific,” Slone said. “This weekend was just great golf. I mean, she ended up winning the tournament by 10 shots.”

The credit cannot all go to Miller, though. Schuldt also finished in the top five, tying Wisconsin’s Brooke Ferrell for fourth place. Postillion was just outside of the top 10 at No. 11.

“In the first round, Ember and Sam played very well,” Slone said Sunday. “In the second round, Emily had a great round and then again today. In the final round, Ember stepped up and finished strong as well.

“We didn’t necessarily have our best shots each and every round, but we at least had two people come up to the plate and really get it done for each round.”

The highlight of the tournament came from Joers, who had her first career hole-in-one during the first day of competition.

“It was pretty surprising because I had never had one before,” Joers said. “I hit a really good shot, and everybody was just like, ‘Oh! Get in, get in!’ And whenever somebody says that, you never really think it’s going in. And then I look over, and I didn’t see it anymore. And I looked to my mom, and her hands were up in the air. Then I started jumping up and down, and Ember Schuldt was playing behind me, and she heard and looked over, and then she started jumping up and down. It was just a really exciting moment for me.”

Joers followed her hole-in-one by going birdie, par, birdie on the next three holes.

Maintaining concentration is something Slone has emphasized recently, and it has really benefited Illinois. Focus allowed the Illini to maintain their lead heading into the second day of the tournament, getting Illinois a much needed win.

“I think it’s great confidence booster, and I think it’s confirmation that the things that we’ve been doing in practice and workouts are paying off,” Slone said. “You know, we’re doing the right things. We’re preparing well, and it’s very gratifying to see all that come together and accomplish one of our goals.”

Ashley can be reached at [email protected] and @wijangco12.