Girls golf: Vernon Hills' Schulman off to hot start
Vernon Hills sophomore girls golfer Lexi Schulman has picked up right where she left off.
Schulman, who finished tied for fifth in the state in Class 2A as a freshman last year, has been on fire for the Cougars at the start of the 2020 season.
Schulman won the Libertyville invitational with an even-par 71 at Shepherd's Crook in Zion, helping the Cougars take third with its best 18-hole team score since 2017.
Schulman also broke 40 in medalist rounds against Highland Park (36) and Maine West (39), while shooting a 40 against Stevenson.
At Shepherd's Crook, Schulman noted she had 4 birdies and finished the round with a par and a birdie. On the final hole, Schulman used a wedge from 70 yards out, hit to it to about 8 feet and then hit a straight-up-hill putt for birdie.
On the penultimate hole, Schulman, whose low career 18-hole round is a 69, hit her driver into the rough on the left side of the 350-yard hole, hit a strong shot from 150 out with a 5-iron and got to within 20 feet where she 2-putted.
"Everything was kind of spot-on," she said. "The course was a little shorter and it was easier to make a lot more birdies than usual. I used a lot of wedges. I had never played there before, but I looked at the course online before the meet."
Schulman played in numerous summer tournaments. "Not as many as I wanted because of coronavirus, but I still played in five," she said. "I played pretty well in most of them. My putting definitely is better and I am being more consistent with my game. I rarely have 3-putts now. I have practiced a lot, and every course I have played at I have been a lot better at adjusting to the speed of the greens. Every course is different."
Schulman has been playing the sport for only five years. "No one in my family plays," said Schulman, who hones her craft at Hawthorn Woods Country Club and White Deer Run in Vernon Hills. "My dad decided to take me out for a lesson and it went from there. I instantly liked it."
With a greatly altered playing schedule this fall, Schulman said her goals are simple. "I am hoping to have my scores all be around the same in the 9-hole matches and shoot close to even as possible," she said. "And if there are any more tournaments, I would definitely like to win those."
The Red Raiders were undefeated in dual-match play and also won their own invitational at Pinecrest in Huntley.
"We have played excellent," longtime Huntley coach Ann Christiansen said. "We have started off pretty well. We have a really good team this year."
The Red Raiders, who recently shot a 157 for 9 holes against Fox Valley Conference foe Prairie Ridge at Pinecrest, are senior-dominated. In the Prairie Ridge tilt, Molly Baker shot 35, while Lorelei Oomens had a 37. Kendall Krich and Nina Shaffer also shot under 45. "It's a really good team," said Christiansen. "This group has been together since freshman year. I wish there was some way to hold a state tournament. It's tough for the girls who have worked so hard for this."
Christiansen, whose team will graduate six seniors, said Oomens, Baker and Shaffer very likely will play college golf, while Krich's main sport is basketball. Oomens won the Huntley invite with a 36, while Shaffer finished fourth with a 39.
Senior Maria Stephens continues to play well for the Corsairs. Stephens carded a 33 in the team's first match against Nazareth at Carriage Greens in Darien. "She should have had a 32, but missed a birdie putt because the pin flag was low on the ground and we could not remove the flag due to pandemic regulations," Carmel coach Arnie Anima pointed out.
Stephens also took third at Libertyville with a 76 and shot a 37 against Joliet Catholic at Brae Loch in Grayslake. Anima noted Stephens teaches putting to teammates during range time at Pine Meadow in Mundelein.
In the JCA match at Brae Loch, freshman Kate Roberts pitched in from 20-25 yards out for a birdie on the par-3 17th hole. Carmel has 19 players on the team with six having picked up a club ranging from two months to two weeks before the season started.
The Fillies started their season with a pair of Mid-Suburban League tri-meets. Barrington went 159 in wins over Buffalo Grove and Palatine at Palatine Hills, and then shot 157 in wins over Conant and Fremd at Fox Run in Elk Grove Village. Sophia Sulkar shot 36 in the Palatine Hills win and Simran Singh shot 35 on the back nine at Fox Run, while Sulkar shot 37.
Wheaton North update
The Falcons were off to a 4-0 start and also won the first Wheaton Cup event at Arrowhead West in Wheaton. The event featured Wheaton North, Wheaton Warrenville South, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy in match-play format.
The Falcons won the tournament when No. 7 golfer Emma McMurrough sank a 5-foot putt on the ninth hole to go 1 up and win the point. Wheaton North also beat the school nine-hole record by 14 strokes with a recent 163 effort. "All the girls have been playing well," Falcons coach Karen Calabrese said. "This is the best start any team in Wheaton North history has seen. The more success the team sees, the more confident they play. I have seen more aggressive shots/play from the team and I am hoping that will translate into some low scores (this) week."
Lake Zurich update
Junior Kiana Pouyat starred for the Bears in a pair of matches last week against Libertyville and Mundelein. Pouyat was the medalist with a 39 in a 2-stroke loss to Libertyville at Veteran's Memorial. She also was medalist with a 40 in a win against host Mundelein at Countryside. That followed a second-place effort at the Libertyville invite with a 3-over 75. "Kiana has put in the daily work all summer, practicing long hours and playing in tournaments," Bears coach Mel Fox said.
Fox was thrilled to see the team drop its nine-hole score from a 190 the first week to 175 last week.