Golfers Begin the Spring Season at Rio Verde Invitational
Feb. 28, 2006
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When Illinois tees off Thursday at the Rio Verde (Ariz.) Collegiate Invitational, poor course conditions may actually give the Orange and Blue an advantage.
Originally host Western Michigan scheduled competitors on the Quail Run course, a course the Illini had not played in two years. Now it turns out the head coach Paula Smith's team will not have to deal with unfamiliarity after all.
Tournament officials determined Quail Run unfit for play last week and moved tournament play to the White Wing Golf Course, meaning five out of six members traveling; Casey Burden, Kristine Cook, Megan Godfrey, Meghan Naik and Seul Ki Park, have played the Arizona course. New to White Wing is sophomore Stephanie Mory.
Thanks to diligent off-season refinement of golf fundamentals all the year- around driving range in Savoy, putting at Huff Hall, and even some practice at the Irwin Indoor Football Facility, head coach Paula Smith said the team compares favorably to where it was at last year at this time.
"Everybody has really made the effort to take their off-season responsibilities very seriously as far as lifting weights three days a week with strength coach Ryan Marker, and we've been doing some mental activities as well," Smith said. "I feel that we're much ahead of where we were last year at this time. In the fall we had some really good things happen, and I see this as a continuation."
Five Big Ten teams are scheduled to compete in the 17-team field. Holes 11, 12 and 13 present potential water hazards and highlight the par 71, 6,073-yard course.