By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer
May 10, 2023
(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)
An historic season is over for the University of Illinois women’s golf team after its third consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. The college careers for the Illini’s top player also concluded with a Top 20 performance.
Illinois, the 2023 Big Ten Conference champions, simply couldn’t overcome not being able to handle the weather conditions and stacked field on day one of the NCAA San Antonio Regional in south central Texas. The Illini, which had the program’s first Big Ten title ever mostly on the historic efforts of top players Crystal Wang and junior Isabel Sy, found themselves last among 12 teams in the NCAA regional after day one with no player posting a better opening round score than Wang’s 3-over 75. Wang and Sy were the only Illini after day one to post a score in the 70s in a round where wind gusts shot up to 25 miles per hour during the middle of the day and No. 6-ranked Texas A&M led with a team score of 7-over-par 295.
Conditions would not get any friendly throughout the week as day two saw a weather delay stall play for nearly an hour early in the morning but Illinois paced itself to dig out of the last-place hole.
Illinois’ final round score of 10-over 300 was 17 shots better than its opening round number and left them 38 shots clear of last place Missouri State, which got into the field after winning the Missouri Valley Conference Championship in Waterloo, Ill. on April 18.
The NCAA San Antonio Regional consisted of six programs ranked in the Top 31 of Golfstat’s season rankings and saw No. 7 Auburn, the second-highest ranked program in this regional field, go home early after failing to be one of the five teams to advance to the national championships to be played May 19-24 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Wang, the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, recovered nicely after day one to post a 2-under 70 in the second round but a quadruple bogey on No. 1 (Wang’s 10th hole of the day) in the final round on Wednesday morning ended any hope of a similar dramatic comeback to get her the low individual required to get her into NCAA Championships. Wang finished her final collegiate tournament with a 6-over-par 222 total and tied for 20th place. The low individual was indeed the individual medalist for the event as senior left-hander Camryn Carreon from the University of Texas San Antonio wowed the home fans by finishing at 10-under-par 206 having played the par-4 holes at 7-under throughout the week.
The five qualifying teams out of this regional were Pepperdine (9-over 873), which rallied to post a 6-under-par 282 final-day total, Southern Methodist (9-over 873), Oklahoma State (16-over 880), Texas A&M (16-over 880) and New Mexico (25-over 889). UNM rallied to take out Auburn after finishing the final 1-over-par as a team, which was 10 shots clear of a Tigers program coming off a second place finish in the Southeastern Conference Championships.
In other NCAA regional play, the two Big Ten schools who advanced to the NCAA Championships came from the Palm Beach Regional as Michigan State took home that regional title with a 8-over-par 872 total and Northwestern finished tied for third place with a total of 14-over-par 878. Maryland and Ohio State were in position to qualify for NCAAs out of the Athens Regional after two days but both programs were jumped by a surging Ole Miss and Augusta College, which was in its first NCAA regional bid since 2019 and will be making its first ever NCAA Championships appearance.
Oklahoma State +16
Texas A&M +16
New Mexico +25
Sam Houston State +42
Missouri State +94
Illini Individual Scores
T20 Crystal Wang 75-70-77 -- 222 (+6)
T33 Isabel Sy: 78-76-72 -- 226 (+10)
T30 Siyan Chen: 82-72-72 -- 226 (+10)
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