Freshman Nora Lucas led the Illini at the Big Ten Championship and notched a career-best finish, tying for sixth.
April 26, 2009
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Illinois women's golf team fired its best round of the Big Ten Championship with a 306 on Sunday and placed ninth at the conference tournament with a 72-hole total of 1278 (+126). The Illini received stellar final rounds from freshmen Nora Lucas, who tied for sixth, and Hailey Koschmann, who tied for 12th, to move ahead of Minnesota on the final day.
"It was definitely a great way to finish the season and a stepping stone to start next season off with," head coach Renee Slone said. "Conditions were very challenging as the scores indicated. The first three rounds were played in 30-35 mile per hour wind, but today's round was much better."
Lucas carded her best round of the tournament with a 3-over 75 and remained in a tie for sixth with a 72-hole total of 308 (81-76-76-75). The Glenview, Ill., native notched two birdies and nothing worse than a bogey during the final round to post her best finish of the year, which was previously a tie for 35th at the Indiana Invitational. This event also marks the first time Lucas has led the Orange and Blue at a tournament.
"Nora had a great tournament," Slone said. "She really has learned a lot this year from both the physical and mental side of the game. She focused on taking it one shot at a time, was able to minimize her mistakes and played within herself. She didn't try to force anything and her short game was phenomenal."
Koschmann tallied the low round by an Illini for the championship with a final round 1-over 73 at the par-72 6,333-yard Kampen Course. The Lake Forest, Ill., native grabbed her best finish of the season, tying for 12th with a 72-hole total of 315 (80-77-85-73).
"Hailey was striking the ball really well today," Slone said. "That was really a great round to finish off this season with and to build upon for next season."
Freshman Samantha Sloan nearly extended her streak of top 25 finishes to seven, but finished just outside of it, ending the tournament in a tie for 27th after a final round 77. Sloan finished the event with a 72-hole total of 322 (77-86-82-77). Senior Nancy Featherstone turned in a final round 83 and placed 56th with a tournament total of 336 (85-85-83-83).
Sophomore Raquel Hopton and freshman Katelin Dilger each shot their best rounds of the tournament on Sunday. Hopton used a final round 81 to tie for 61st with a total of 340 (87-88-84-81), while Dilger posted an 84 to finish 66th with a total of 348 (86-93-85-84).
"We are still working toward getting four scores in the 70s, so it's just a matter of gaining that consistency as we move forward into next year," Slone said.
No. 11 Purdue maintained its healthy lead and earned the conference title after its third consecutive round of 300. The Boilermakers (1209) finished 37 strokes ahead of second-place No. 20 Michigan State (1246) and boasted the top two individuals, Maria Hernandez and Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, who tied for first with 72-hole totals of 9-over 297.
No. 25 Ohio State (1255) took third, Northwestern (1258) finished fourth and Iowa (1264) rounded out the top five.
A highlight show featuring footage from all four rounds of the 2009 Big Ten Championship will be aired on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, May 17 at 2 p.m. ET.