St. Charles East senior Paige Jordan played the Class AA Crystal Lake Central girls golf regional Wednesday with no pressure.
That's because as the round progressed at soggy Golf Club of Illinois in Algonquin, Jordan didn't think she stood a chance of contending for the individual championship.
Contact information ( * required )
"I thought I was so out of it," Jordan said. "I didn't plan on winning it."
But win it Jordan did, shooting a respectable 11-over 82 on a day better suited for ducks than golfers.
Jordan's round, though, didn't push the Saints over the top for a team qualifying spot. Those went to Prairie Ridge (340), Crystal Lake Central (365) and St. Charles North (368), which all advance to Monday's Burlington Central sectional at Randall Oaks. St. Charles East was fourth at 375, Marian Central fifth at 376 and Geneva sixth at 388.
Individual qualifiers other than Jordan included Geneva junior Elise Anderson (96), St. Charles East junior Darby Crane (92) and Saints' senior Jane Noelker (94), Larkin senior Allison Smith (89) and Geneva sophomore Nicole Hassels, who won a three-player playoff for the 10th and final individual spot at Randall Oaks after shooting a 97.
Jordan's round was just good enough to nose out Prairie Ridge's Robin Manarik and Delaney Peterson for first place by 1 shot.
"I played really well on the front," said Jordan, who will play at Carthage College next year. "I putted really well. I started shaky on the back and didn't play well the first four holes but I came back and parred out. I missed a few birdie putts but a lot of us missed those today."
Jordan, who finished 23rd at state last year and won the Barrington Invite earlier this season, was disappointed her team didn't advance.
"It's a bittersweet kind of win," she said. "I wish I had played better but a win is a win."
For St. Charles North it was survival. With senior Ariana Furie the only North Star left on the course, Marian Central had the third team spot and Furrie needed to come in at 92 or better for SCN to advance. She carded an 85 to put the North Stars over the top.
"My first nine was awful," said Furrie, who placed 15th at state last year. "I had a ton of missed chips. Usually I love sand shots. I don't know what was going on. I had more putts on the back but I was getting on the greens better. I've played in rain a lot and knew what to expect. It was annoying and the gray sky made it hard to see."
Junior Jessica Grill had an 89 for the North Stars, while senior Jordyn McFarlane shot 90 and junior Sam Scroggin 104.
"It started raining on No. 3 and never stopped," said Grill. "You just have to know that you have to club up, stay positive and keep a positive mindset. My drives have been much better. I didn't have to play out of the rough a lot. My putting was tough but I stayed in the fairway. There were no real highlights; I just wanted to get some consistency going on the tough shots."
For Larkin's Smith, who advanced to sectionals for the third straight year, the next step is making it to state as her brother Ryan, a 2010 Larkin grad, did twice. Wednesday's solid round was the first step.
"My drives were pretty good for the most part," said Smith, who shot 42 at Randall Oaks in a dual meet last week. "I was just trying to get the speed of the greens with the rain and trying to stay focused. My chips cost me some strokes but I've been happy with the way I've been playing lately. I'll just keep doing what I've been doing."
Larkin coach Amy Silverman has high hopes for Smith in the sectional round.
"She's very familiar with Randall Oaks and she's been so consistent all season. I think her chances are very good."
Geneva's Anderson was able to play the front nine relatively rain free but not her back nine.
"It started out really well," she said. "It started raining on the back but you can't let it get to you. You just have to keep your hands dry. My irons were going straight today but my chipping wasn't so good. The greens started out fast and then got super slow."