Senior Nora Lucas won her first career tournament title at the Westbrook Spring Invitational by breaking the Illinois school record.
Feb. 27, 2012
PEORIA, Ariz. - Fresh off a record-setting performance on Sunday, the Illinois women's golf team maintained its lead in the final round and won its first tournament title of the 2011-12 season at the Westbrook Spring Invitational. The Illini broke the school record for the lowest 54-hole tournament score by 22 strokes, carding an 11-under par 853, which included the two lowest individual 54-hole scores in program history by individual champion Nora Lucas (-11) and fourth-place finisher Hailey Koschmann (-6). The previous school record of 875 (+11) came at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, the 2011 fall season opener, meaning this squad set and reset the top mark at each of its season-opening events.
"It feels great," head coach Renee Slone said. "We were able to draw from experiences in the fall and everybody felt comfortable and really finished strong today. They've learned a lot, and this will definitely be a big confidence boost moving forward. We look forward to building off of this."
After a record-low second round score of 282 (-6) yesterday, the Orange and Blue fired a 283 (-5) in the third round, which ranks as the second-lowest team round in school history, to seal the victory on Monday. Illinois, which earned its first title since winning the Memphis Fall Invite in October 2010, beat second-place Texas Tech (856) by three strokes, as the Illini and Red Raiders were the only two schools under-par in the 12-team field. In total, the Illini recorded three of the top-five low team rounds in program history.
Lucas captured the individual title at the par 72, 6,178-yard Vistas Course at Westbrook Village Golf Club with an 11-under par score of 205, breaking the individual 54-hole school record previously held by coach Slone (-5) by six strokes. The Glenview, Ill., native was tied for first place after 36 holes before pulling away to win the tournament by two strokes with a final round score of 68 (-4), which equaled the fifth-best mark in program history.
Lucas, who was the first Illini to win a tournament since Koschmann did so at the 2010 Indiana Invitational, jumped out of the gate with four birdies on the front nine and closed with an even-par back nine with her only bogey on No. 10 and a fifth birdie on No. 15. Gabriella Dominguez and Kimberly Kaufman, both from Texas Tech, tied for second place with a score of 207 (-9).
"Nora played another great round of golf today," Slone said. "She was very steady and made a lot of birdies again. She gave herself a lot of opportunities and had a number of easy pars. She just played very simple tee-to-green, green-to-hole golf and stayed pretty focused in the present."
Koschmann turned in the second-best 54-hole tournament total in Illinois history, shooting a career-low 210 (-6) and taking fourth place after carding an even-par 72 in the third round. The Lake Forest, Ill., native rolled in 11 birdies over the three rounds and shot even-par or better in every round at an event for the first time in her career.
Sophomore Ember Schuldt posted a third round score of 70 (-2) to tie for 12th place. The Sterling Ill., native tallied her career-low tournament total with a score of 217 (+1), which places her just outside Illinois' top-10 list. Senior Katelin Dilger (223) finished in a tie for 33rd place after shooting a 75 (+3) in the third round, while senior Samantha Sloan (224) carded a third round 73 (+1) to tie for 36th place.
"This golf course was set up very well for us," Slone said. "We took advantage of the opportunities and being able to post some numbers like this will hopefully open some doors for us as far as realizing that we can take it low. It will help us as we move forward into the spring season."
Illinois will be back in action March 9-11 when they travel to Orange Park, Fla., for the Eagle Landing Invitational.
Westbrook Spring Invitational Final Results
1. ILLINOIS 288-282-283 = 853 (-11)*
1st Nora Lucas 70-67-68 = 205 (-11)* | Scorecard
4th Hailey Koschmann 69-69-72 = 210 (-6) | Scorecard
T-12th Ember Schuldt 75-72-70 = 217 (+1) | Scorecard
T-33rd Katelin Dilger 74-74-75 = 223 (+7) | Scorecard
T-36th Samantha Sloan 77-74-73 = 224 (+8) | Scorecard
* school record