URBANA (WCIA) — The Illinois women’s golf team is getting its turn to shine. After watching the men’s team make 11 straight appearances in the NCAA Championships. the women are taking center stage this week after qualifying for the program’s first NCAA Championships.
“We kind of talked about it a lot how we see potential in us and it was really amazing that we actually make it,” Illinois freshman Kornkamol Sukaree said.
With three freshman in the lineup, some might be surprised this was the team to do it. But it was those underclassmen that played a big part in the squad’s fifth place finish at the East Lansing Regional. It’s been a longer journey for the only senior on the team, Bing Singhsumalee. The Naperville native committed to an Illinois team coming off a 9th place finish in the Big Ten. She’s been a key part in the development of the program, garnering All-Big Ten honors in three of her four years.
“Everything that I’ve done here is because of Coach Slone and everything she’s done for us,” Singhsumalee said. “We should have been at Nationals for a very long time now and it just feels amazing to finally give her this.”
The players and coaches say there was a different feel around the team this season, and they all agree on what got them to where they are.
“I think just the energy that we give to each other, it’s a positive energy and the bond that we have with each other,” said Sukaree.
“I’d say just overall our team dynamic has definitely changed,” added Singhsumalee. “We have a lot more energy each day and just our love for each other also. We’ve always had a lot of love for each other but this year it’s really been a huge factor.”
“A true team cohesiveness,” Slone said. “Really playing for each other, a team unity and a genuine love for each other and doing everything that they absolutely could not only for themselves to be successful but for the team as well.”
Illinois is ranked 18th out of the 24 teams in the field with play starting Friday in Fayetteville, Arkansas.