Girls golf: Back at full strength, St. Charles North rolls at UEC tourney
Megan Furtney is getting healthy at just the right time, which makes an already elite St. Charles North team that much more dangerous.
After missing four months after losing the tip of her left pinkie finger in a household accident in May, Furtney returned to the North Stars lineup two weeks ago.
On Monday on the No. 1 Course at St. Andrews Golf & Country Club in West Chicago, Furtney fired a 1-under 70 to win the Upstate Eight Conference championship.
Furtney made 3 birdies -- twice reaching a par 5 in two and two-putting -- and a pair of bogeys to lead her team to a tournament-best 296.
"I did a pretty good job scrambling today," Furtney said. "Getting a few more putts to drop would have been nice but I'm happy with how I played. Since I returned I've been practicing pretty hard to get back all my skill sets."
Furtney said she was practicing between 5 and 8 hours a day before the injury.
"The first couple days being back were really weird, gripping the club felt different," Furtney said. "But it's fine now. I'm hitting the ball the way I used to. Same distance. I'm just trying to get back all those little skills. I'm just happy to be back."
Furtney wasn't entirely pleased with her round Monday, especially the 35 putts. Hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation made up for that.
"She kept herself very positive," North Stars coach Irish Whalen said of the injury. "She hit the ball very well today. Some of those birdie putts didn't drop but we want those putts to drop in a couple weeks.
"We're very happy with the 296. All the girls are playing really strong. We're glad to be back to a full squad and the comfort of that, and they are just pushing each other to be the best players they can be."
Emma Hayes and Sarah Arnold both shot 74s and Katelyn David had a 78 for a North Stars team trying to improve on last year's fourth place state finish.
The first stop is a trip to Sycamore for regional play next Wednesday.
"The top four are shooting consistent numbers and we're just hoping to keep doing it the next couple weeks," Whalen said. "They are a very talented group. They work hard in-season, off-season. It's a lot of fun to be around. The atmosphere is all team-focused. Even as talented as they are as individuals, it's their dynamics as a team that is so fun."
St. Charles East finished second with a 319, three shots better than Batavia.
Nicole Jordan led the Saints with a 73. That score combined with her play during dual meets made Jordan the conference player of the year following former teammate Rose Bundy last year.
Her 73 was second only to Furtney on Monday.
"I think it's cool to keep the tradition in the St. Charles East family," Jordan said. "I'm super excited about that."
Jordan entered the tournament with a slim lead over North's Arnold. Playing in the same group, Jordan put an exclamation point on her title by sticking a 52 degree wedge from 77 yards out to 2 feet on the final hole after Arnold had hit her approach just as close.
"She's worked hard, played in a lot of tournaments, brought her score down," Saints coach Rod Osborne said. "Practiced a lot. She's become very consistent and solid in her rounds this year. She played pretty well today. It was a great end of the regular season for her to get that honor."
Jordan shot a 38 on the front and 35 on the back as she was able to keep her driver a bit straighter on the inward nine.
"It was good golf," Jordan said. "The pressure was high but I felt like I kept calm.
"My front nine was a little shaky. My back nine my putting started to click and my driver was consistent."
Teammate Riley Sullivan also shot 3 shots better on the back with a 39-36 for a 75, and Grace Westerhoff went the other way with a 36-43 for a 79.
"That's what we have been leaning on all year," Osborne said of his three top scorers.
It was quite an improvement for the Saints after shooting 341 Saturday.
Madi McCoy's 75 with two birdies on the front paced Batavia to a solid day at 322. McCoy's sharp round continued a strong season for the senior that includes an even-par 72 at the Oak Forest invite at Green Garden Country Club.
"She's playing really well right now," Batavia coach Tim Kauffmann said. "Besides just a few holes she played consistently."
Cassie Norville followed McCoy with a 79, the first time she's broke 80 according to Kauffmann. Sammi Wicks and Sammi Hasemann both carded 84s. Kaitlyn Stangl had a 91 and made all-conference.
"We played pretty good," Kauffmann said. "We're going to have to play a little better in regionals."
Other all-conference golfers included Geneva's Darby Lillibridge who tied for eighth Monday with a 79 and teammate Avery Frick (94).
Lauren Deliman fired an 80 for West Aurora; the Blackhawks' Annie Wu had an 87 and earned all-UEC honors.
Linsey Toondarack paced U-46 co-op with an 89.