By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer
May 9, 2022
The Illinois women’s golf team will need a monumental comeback over the next two days to get itself in the program’s second ever NCAA Championship.
The Illini, which came to the Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State at Seminole Legacy Golf Club as the fifth-highest ranked team in a highly competed NCAA regional tournament, weren’t able to get out to a quality start in the first round Monday.
After 18 holes of play, Illinois sits 11th in a 12-team regional after posting a 19-over-par 307 and currently sit eight shots behind South Carolina, Miami (Fla.) and first-day surprise Quinnipiac for the fourth and final transfer spot into the 2022 NCAA Championship on May 20-25 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This is the fifth-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance and ninth overall in Illinois women’s golf history. The Illini posted a 13th place finish at the 2021 NCAA Columbus Regional a season ago. The only time Illini have advanced to the NCAA Championships was the ninth place finish in 2019 led by Kornkamol Sukaree, Crystal Wang, Tristyn Nowlin and Bing Singhsumalee.
Illinois started on the back nine at Seminole and the only Illini scorecard to make the turn at even par was No. 5 player Lexanne Halama but the freshman from Knoxville, Tennessee faltered on the final four holes with two bogeys and a double bogey.
UCLA leads the regional with an even-par 288 on the opening day, with host Florida State sitting two back at 2-over 290 and Mississippi State at 291 rounding out the top three.
Sukaree paced the Illini with a three-over 75 and is tied for 25th in the race for individual medalist currently being led by the 3-under-par 69 scores of Florida State’s Beatrice Wallin and Mississippi State’s Ashley Gilliam. Gilliam, who along with former All-American and current LPGA Tour player Ally Ewing as the only two players in MSU program history to shoot 5-under-par in four or more career rounds, had seven birdies on the day.
Isabel Sy, the Illini sophomore from San Gabriel, California, had a roller coaster day that included seven bogeys (five on her first nine holes) and a double bogey on the 485-yard, par-5 sixth hole but also four birdies on route to a 5-over-par 77. Wang and junior Siyan Chen each posted a six-over 78 and are tied for 47th through one round.
Illinois, which came to Tallahassee as the fifth seed in the regional, will now tee off early on the back nine again Tuesday morning flanked by the two Southeastern Conference schools from Mississippi (MSU and Ole Miss) at 8 a.m. to 8:44 a.m. EST.
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