ALGONQUIN – St. Charles East senior Paige Jordan shrugged off her standing as medalist at Wednesday’s IHSA Class AA Crystal Lake Central girls golf regional.
A little less than six hours earlier, she was prepared to take the same sentiment toward her round.
An opening birdie left Jordan confident about tackling Golf Club of Illinois through cool temperatures and driving drizzle. When the next few holes went much less smoothly, she never figured she might wind up with an 82.
“I thought I was so out of it that I was just like, ‘Oh, I might as well just play to make sure I get into sectionals,’” Jordan said. “I wasn’t planning on winning. I was just planning on moving on.”
Jordan headlined a strong group of Chronicle-area athletes to advance to Monday’s Burlington Central Sectional at Randall Oaks in West Dundee. She’ll be joined by teammates Darby Crane (92) and Jane Noelker (94), as the Saints continue a season dedicated to late former teammate Anna Daley, who died from complications of acute myeloid leukemia in May.
St. Charles North advanced as the third and final qualifying team, scoring 368 to finish behind Prairie Ridge (340) and the Crystal Lake Central co-op (365).
Ariana Furrie (85), Jessica Grill (89) and Jordyn McFarlane (90) formed a solid nucleus, and are looking forward to seeing what Sam Scroggin (104) and the rest of the North Stars do as an encore next week under what they hope are better conditions.
“Even if we don’t have our best day – and today wasn’t great – we’re still able to get it together,” said Furrie, a senior. “I’m really confident with what our team can do. We bond really well.”
Like Crane and Noelker, Geneva’s Elise Anderson (96) and Nicole Hassels (97) advanced as individuals. Hassels seemed calm when taking an unconventional path to the 10th and final qualifying spot, needing three holes to defeat teammate Mary Clare Novak and McHenry’s Kaylee Ross in a soggy playoff.
Novak was eliminated after two holes, but Hassels remained dialed in as she approached the next tee with Ross.
Earlier, she navigated a wait of around two hours from the time she turned in her scorecard to when the final group – which included Furrie and Jordan – descended on the clubhouse.
“Just telling myself that I’m fine and stuff,” Hassels said. “Trying not to focus on other scores.”
Keeping a clear head also helped Jordan, especially as she gulped through a handful of sevens.
Shaky wedge play contributed to a triple bogey on No. 14, but after that, the Carthage College signee parred out. Her iron shots fused together nicely, and included an approach to within about eight feet on No. 16.
Jordan had a chance for birdie on the final hole after lofting a 7-iron over a sizable pond from about 150 yards. She missed the putt, overcompensating the green speed after playing a slower surface on No. 17, but recovered for par.
At that point, she had located a slightly stronger pulse on her score range and uncorked some nervous energy, then a smile.
“It’s a bittersweet kind of win,” Jordan said. “I wish I would have done better and played much better, but a win’s a win. And a championship is nice.”
Much like they did GCI, many Tri-Cities players will take an open approach to Randall Oaks. It’s a course they see sparingly, if at all, during the regular season and summer tournament circuit, so there’s plenty to be said about a solid practice round.
Furrie’s dad, Shawn, plays Randall Oaks often enough that his daughter finds he “knows it completely.” Furrie will be sure to have attentive ears in the next few days while keeping her eyes open, too.
Wednesday’s dreary conditions increased her gratitude for coaches and parents who follow various groups as de facto forecaddies.
“I should be wearing contacts, but I don’t, so I really can’t even see the ball in daylight,” Furrie said. “So today was just kind of extra hard.”
Ultimately, she pushed through it.
It was that kind of day.