Leathernecks shine individually and as a team in UNI Invite

Cassisy Jurkaites stares down her putt.


Cassisy Jurkaites stares down her putt.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — It is the time of year when spring has sprung, and that means it is time for golf. Though college basketball is in the headlines predominately this time of year, this is also a big time for golf as well. The Masters are right around the corner, and it is the time when people dust off their clubs and head over to the nearest course to get back in the swing of things. For Western Illinois, both the men and women’s golf teams teed off this weekend in prospective tournaments. Both teams played in a tournament hosted by the University of Northern Iowa.

The men teed off in Cedar Falls, Iowa this past weekend, and got off to a fast start. They followed some of their best players on the team including Jackson Wetherbee and Kyle Irlbacker. The two are in the top spots for Western and currently lead Western with a combined team score of 299. The Leathernecks are the leaders in the tournament and have a pretty substantial lead. The only team within reach is the University of Creighton. They are six strokes back of Western, and will need to sink more putts if they wish to have a chance to unseat the Purple and Gold atop the leaderboard. In individual play, Wetherbee is leading the Leathernecks. He has hit the ball straight and superbly, and that was only his first round of play.

For the women’s team, they haven’t gotten off to as strong of a start as the men, but are playing very compressively. They currently sit in fourth on the leaderboard. Leading the way in team play for the Leathernecks is Nicole Hamilton-Cross. She shot an 11-over par, and as a team Western Illinois finished with a 341-combined score at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course.

“We struggled to hit greens and played more bogey golf than we wanted,” said head coach Lia Biehl Lukkarinen. “Tomorrow we will enjoy a less windy day and will work on stringing putts together.” Other players that stood out on the team were Katie McTaggart and Cassidy Jurkaites. They hit the ball well off the tee and shot an 84 and 85, respectively. There is still plenty of time to climb up the leaderboard, but the women will have to be sharp if they want to finish in the top three.

Both teams are in a prime position to come out on top this weekend, but it is awesome to finally see the weather begin to change. The birds are chirping and the grass is growing, but more importantly, the golf clubs are swinging. It is a great time to pull out your clubs and hit the fairways. Hopefully, the Leathernecks can continue to be successful as the weather continues to get better outside.