Mistwood's recently renovated course has proved a tough challenge for the players in the 20th Illinois Women's Open -- with the exception of Emily Collins, that is.
Collins, a recent University of Oklahoma graduate preparing for the LPGA qualifying school, posted a 4-under-par 68 in Tuesday's second round to open a 5-stroke lead entering Wednesday's final 18 holes. She's at 3-under 141 for the first 36 holes.
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Alyssia Ferrell is in the same position career-wise as Collins and happens to be Collins' closest pursuer. Ferrell, who just finished her college career at Michigan State, also is headed to LPGA Q-school. The IWO is her third pro tournament, and she has made the cut in all three starts.
Windy conditions hampered the 81 starters Monday and Tuesday, but they didn't faze Collins, who is from Colleywood, Texas. "Wind doesn't bother me a lot," she said. "I think I'll be OK if I stay in the same mindset."
The IWO is her second as a pro, and she will try to qualify for next week's LPGA tournament in Michigan on Monday before focusing on Q-School, which comes at the end of August.
"Emily played wonderful," said Berwyn veteran Nicole Jeray, one of Collins' playing partners in the first two rounds and the only LPGA player in the field. "She hardly made any mistakes and putted well."
Starting her second round at No. 10, Collins took charge of the tournament by making all birdies on Mistwood's treacherous Kelpie's Corner -- the three-hole stretch from Nos. 14-16.
Best of the Illinois players are Sterling's Ember Schuldt and Flossmoor's Ashley Armstrong, both tied for fourth. Schuldt is a University of Illinois golfer as is Burr Ridge's Samantha Postillion, who is tied for ninth.