Webhead: Illinois women’s golf to begin tournament season Sunday

Abstract: Illini look to build on last weeks dominant exhibition performance as they begin their season on Sunday.
Tweet: Illini ready for spring season
Breakout Box:
When: SundayMonday, Feb. 21-22, 2016
where to follow: Birdiefire.com
quick
notes: This is the Illini’s first tournament of the spring season. They
look to improve from an 8th place finish in last years event.
hidden stat: The Illini won this tournament in 2012 and has the best individual finish, Nora Lucas.

The
Illinois women’s golf team look to build on it’s match play victory
against Illinois State as it officially begins the spring season at the
Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria, Arizona.

The Illini have had a long week of travel, coming back from Florida on Sunday
and Heading to the west side for this event. Despite the busy week head
coach Renee Slone refuses to use that as an excuse for her players.

“We
have basically had the last three and a half months off,” Slone said.
“We should be excited, eager, and motivated to get back into competitive
play.”

Sophomore Pailin Ruttanasupagid talked about her team’s preparation with the short week.

“We’re
taking responsibility for getting sleep and catching up on homework,”
Ruttanasupagid said. “That way we can focus on competing whatever our
schedule is.”

The Westbrook Spring Invitational,hosted by Wisconsin, is a two day event starting on Sunday. The field will start with the conventional golf course on sunday, and then play the links golf course on Monday.

The links course can prove to be more of a challenge than a traditional course.

“It
can be a lot windier on a links course, so accuracy plays a bigger
role,” Sophomore Dana Gattone said. “There’s more of an emphasis on not
leaving the longer putts.”

Slone
said that she actually thinks this course can play in her team’s
advantage in a lot of ways. The course has many short par five and par 4
holes that she believes can offer birdie opportunities for her team.

The
Illini have had some success in this event in the past. They came in
first place in the Invitational in 2012. They finished middle of the
pack in eighth place last year but have many players returning to the
course for the second time now.

“Last
year I thought we played really great,” Gattone said. “We were able to
put ourselves in position to compete on the last day, so hopefully we’ll
be able to do even more this year.”

Slone also believes that experience on a certain golf course can prove to be beneficial.

“It’s
helpful to have knowledge of a golf course,” Slone said. “I think
there’s some comfort to go along with that and now we know what to
expect.”

The
Westbrook Spring Invitational has 14 teams participating this year,
College of Charleston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Nebraska,
Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, SMU,
UNLV, Washington State, and host Wisconsin.

The illini will try to use the momentum they gained from last week’s beatdown of Illinois State.

“I
thought we played really well last week, it was even hard to see how
well we played because it was a match-play event so our scores for each
round weren’t posted,” Gattone said. “I know in 2012 we came in first
and had the individual champion and I know that if we build off of what
we did last week and last year we can come close to that.”

Her coach said the schedule was done with a purpose.

“Last week was set up by design to get us into the swing of things,” Slone said. “Now we’re more ready to compete.”

Slone said that she thinks this tournament is a great place to get the season started and get back into a competitive mindset.

“Our goal is to win the tournament,” Ruttanasupagid said.z