Illini women’s golf finish sixth in Ohio

By Lucas Wright

Early struggles plagued the Illinois women’s golf team this weekend during the team’s sixth-place finish at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational.

Illinois opened the tournament with a 22-over par 310 — the second-highest score of any team in the first round. The score was also the team’s second highest of the spring season, behind its opening round 316 at the Briar’s Creek Invitational on March 23-24.

“We didn’t get off to a good start, plain and simple,” assistant coach Jenny Coluccio said. “When you do that it is hard to battle back, especially on this course where it doesn’t give you many opportunities to do so.”

The Illini rebounded with the second-lowest score in the second round — an 8-over 296 — which helped them climb three spots up the leaderboard from 11th to eighth. The team moved up as high as fourth place in the final round; however, Illinois finished in sixth with a final round 16-over 304.

“There was a change in mentality (after round one),” Coluccio said. “ We played smarter, made the adjustments we needed to make and moved on.”

Kent State and Ohio State topped the leaderboard, shooting 19-over 883 and 22-over 886, respectively.

The Illini were led throughout the weekend by sophomore Stephanie Miller who posted her best score of the spring: a 9-over 225. She finished tied for 10th, which was her first top-10 finish since the Jim West Invitational in November.

Miller faltered in the opening round, posting an 8-over 80. But she did not let that get in the way of her good play in rounds two and three.

“The first round I was trying to get everything together and get back on my feet,” Miller said. “(In the second round) I got the putter going again. It got me going on a roll, and I just played a lot smarter overall.”

Miller finished the tournament by shooting an even-par 72 in round two and a 1-over 73 in the final round. The two rounds featured a combined six birdies, and she shot 1-under on the front nine through the rounds.

The other leader for the Illini was Grace Park. The freshman notched her third-straight top-25 finish with an 11-over 227 to put her in a tie for 16th. Park’s solid putting carried her to the top-25 finish.

“I had trouble with the bunkers throughout the tournament,” Park said. “I didn’t play as well as I had hoped, but my putting helped me a lot.”

To round out the team, freshman Jan Prapassarangkul placed 26th by shooting a 14-over 230, freshman Dana Gattone shot a 17-over 233 to finish tied for 35th, sophomore Emily Joers shot a 20-over 236 and senior Pimploy Thirati finished at 31-over for a 247.

The Illini hope to carry some momentum into their next tournament: the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. The tournament will start on Friday and go through Sunday.

The team is feeling confident going into the championship, and they are ready for a shot to win the conference.

“This tournament proved to be a learning opportunity, and it showed there’s a lot of potential out there,” Coluccio said. “They’re hungry to get back out there.”

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