Illinois women’s golf struggles on many levels

By Lucas Wright

It’s no secret that the Illinois women’s golf team has had its struggles throughout the season. However, its difficulties during the spring have centered around the difficult schedule.

The Illini come into this week as the 65th-ranked team in the nation — they have not risen higher than 60th all season. The team has shown a big weakness in playing top-50 ranked teams. Illinois has finished behind a top-50 ranked team on 16 occasions throughout the spring and finished ahead of a top-50 ranked team only four times.

In the Illini’s two tournament wins this season, they faced a total of zero top-50 ranked teams.

Upperclassmen have been inconsistent

Illinois has been led this season by its surging young talented freshmen Jan Prapassarangkul, Dana Gattone and Grace Park. Each of the three has risen to the top of the team at one point in the season.

On the flip side, the team’s upperclassmen have not been significant contributors.

Five non-freshmen have suited up for the Illini this season: sophomores Stephanie Miller and Emily Joers and seniors Pimploy Thirati, Samantha Postillion and Erin Ahern. The three seniors have combined for a per-round scoring average of 79.26 in 23 rounds. Joers played in all but one of the tournaments this year, averaging 78.6 strokes per round.

Miller, has been the most inconsistent of the group this year. She failed to finish outside of the top 25 in all five tournaments throughout the fall season, but finished inside the top 25 once through six spring tournaments.

Her recent play in the Big Ten Championship was not satisfactory to head coach Renee Slone, who called her play “poor” and said Miller did not control her emotions well.

New putters, same results

As of two tournaments ago (the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational), four Illini have played with new Edel custom putters: Miller, Thirati, Prapassarangkul and Park.

Based on the results, the putters haven’t had much of a positive impact on scores for the group.

In the cases of Miller, Prapassarangkul and Park, there’s only been a small change in their average scores. The largest difference is the half stroke added to Miller’s average score per round in her last two events. 

Thirati, who had a higher average than Miller before the putter change, has seen even worse results — nearly 1.5 strokes higher per round compared to her average on the year.

The effects of the new clubs have provided more than changes to stat sheets. In Prapassarangkul’s case, she said she had to focus more on getting a rhythm during the Big Ten Championship, the first time all season she complained about her putting.

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