Kent state women's golf held off a surging Ole Miss team, winning the Illini Invitational by just one stroke to remain undefeated this fall.

“It always feels good to come home with a win,” coach Lisa Strom said. “But this one was a little more exciting, coming down to the wire like that.”

Kent scored 11-under-par 853 in Medinah, Illinois, on Tuesday, and great play through all three rounds was enough to top  an Ole Miss team that scored 16-under-par in the final round.

Assistant coach Jenny Gleason said the close fought ending would be a great lesson for the team.

“As golfers, we have all been on the other side of it too,” Gleason said. “You play all these holes, 54 holes played by five people, and all of a sudden one shot makes the difference. It’s crazy.”

The Flashes have won both their tournaments so far this fall, but Strom was worried about losing momentum coming off a two-week break. She says the team didn’t miss a beat, though, and stays undefeated.

“Everyone contributed in different ways and they just picked up right where they left off in Tennessee,” Strom said. “I think it’s a testament to how hard they have been working and my message to them is just ‘keep climbing.’”

Nine of the 14 teams in the tournament were ranked in the top 50 by Golfweek and Strom credits her team’s discipline and toughness for putting them on top.

“They take every challenge as it comes,” Strom said. “They don’t get too amped up, they don’t get down, they just move on and don’t get big numbers. If you look at the scorecard for the second day there’s nothing worse than bogey, and that goes a long way.”

The team was led by familiar faces in senior Pimnipa Panthong, who finished tied for fifth with a score of five-under-par 211 and Karoline Stormo, who tied for 11th at three-under-par 213.

Panthong stayed focused on herself as Ole Miss closed the gap.

“Honestly while I was playing I did not know who was leading,” she said. “I just played my own game and tried to focus on each shot, but it did feel good to win.”

Junior Chloe Salort and freshman Caley McGinty finished together, tying for 15th at one-under-par 215. McGinty made two critical birdies late to help seal the win.

“(McGinty’s) putts weren’t dropping at the beginning of the round,” Gleason said. “But, she just stayed patient and kept putting herself in good opportunities and birdied two of her last three holes.”

Tying for 15th was sophomore Thitapa Pakdeesettakul, but she was competing as an individual and did not contribute to the team score.

“(Pakdeesettakul) is very steady on the golf course,” Stormo said. “She really keeps her composure. She could be five strokes up or five down and you could never really tell.”

Pakdeesettakul’s success comes at a good time, as the team will be facing a challenge this Saturday.

Heading down to Austin, Texas already on a short week, the team will be without Stormo, who will be competing in a qualifier for the LPGA, but Stormo says the team has people ready to step up.

“The depth we have really helps,” she said. “They just push each other every day and even the people we have staying at home are ready to play.”

Contact Owen MacMillan at omacmill@kent.edu.

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