Illini look to bounce back this weekend at Iowa City

The women’s golf team takes to the tees in Iowa City, Iowa this weekend for the Diane Thomason Invitational, where the Illini look to improve on their first two outings.

The Illini have been up and down in their first two starts of the year, carding a third-place finish at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic and tying for 10th at the Minnesota Invitational.

The Illini showed glimpses of excellence early on, highlighted by a second-round score of 289 at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic in Colorado. However, they have also shown their inconsistency, shooting 319, 293 and 308, respectively, in their three rounds at Minnesota. Illinois has established a scoring average of 300.5, which they will look to get under 300 for the first time this year.

Although they have been somewhat erratic to start off the year, Coach Renee Slone is still proud of what her team has accomplished to begin the season.

“We’ve gotten off to a solid start,” Slone said. “Our first event was out in Colorado, and we put together three solid rounds there. All in all, it was a great start to the season.”

Looking forward to the Illini’s next match, Iowa’s Finkbine Golf Course boasts a course very memorable for sophomore Stephanie Miller, who is looking to repeat as tournament champion. Miller shot a 3-under, 213 total for the three rounds, winning by a staggering 10 strokes in last year’s event. She has put together a respectable first two matches, finishing in the top-25 each match.

Aside from Miller, the Illini have another golfer looking to continue her winning ways. Dana Gattone is a freshman out of Addison, Ill., who has burst onto the scene in her freshman year. She was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week, has a top-ten finish and has already carded a hole-in-one on her young college career.

Looking at the team as a whole, it is no secret that the team is lacking one important aspect: experience. With a team consisting of two sophomores and four freshmen, it is to be expected that it will take some time to get into the rhythm of the season, but Coach Slone is pleased overall with how the young team is adapting.

“We’re now a month into the semester and everyone is starting to get into the flow and are starting to feel a lot more comfortable with things,” Slone said. “I feel that everything is starting to come together very well and it will only continue to get better and better from here.”

The Illini will square off against a strong field of competition, including conference foes Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State, among other strong teams. The ladies will tee off on Saturday morning looking to repeat as tournament champs, but they will have a lot of work to do to get back in winning form.

Lucas can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @LucasWright95.