Girls golf state preview: Work on chipping, putting pays off for New Trier

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BUFFALO GROVE — The top four players on the New Trier girls golf team shot a collective 3-over par on the back nine at the Buffalo Grove Sectional.

The clutch play after the turn, which was turned in by junior Lois Suh (1-over-par 39), sophomore Becca Lindblad (38) and seniors Lexi Salberg (38) and Julia Schuham (40), helped the Trevians advance to this weekend’s Class AA state tournament as a team with a score of 321.

One could provide abstract, cliched reasons as to why the Trevians played so well Monday with the pressure on — they’re the defending state champions so they’ve been in those situations before and they thrive under pressure — but one of the biggest reasons is they spend a lot of time working on their short games, according to Salberg.

“As a team, we work on all aspects of the game, but the most important is always the short game,” Salberg said. “Chipping and putting, it’s really what saves you. That’s one thing we do well as a team, is we always work on that.”

Salberg added that the Trevians work on their putting and chipping on an almost daily basis, doing drills on chipping greens and having up-and-down contests. 

“Putting is usually the thing that (determines) whether you’re getting a birdie or a par, or a bogey or a par,” said Suh, who shot a team-best 1-over 76 at the sectional. “It affects everything.”

Margaret Hickey gives Loyola a boost

Loyola freshman Margaret Hickey has made her presence known this postseason. 

Hickey shot an 80 at the Glenbrook South Regional, and she then shot a 3-over-par 78 on Monday. The freshman is currently playing her best golf of the season — 3 over was her lowest round in relation to par on the year — and she served as a nice complement to all-state senior Isabelle Kane in terms of both her performance and her demeanor. 

Kane said Hickey’s positivity has been infectious this season.

“I think she has a great attitude. The other day, coach (Jim Jackimiec) was asking me how I was doing and I wasn’t doing that well, but I said, ‘I’m playing awesome,’ ” said Kane, with a smile. “I think (her attitude) helps a lot.”

Kane, unlike last year, will be joined at the state tournament by Hickey and her teammates. The Ramblers shot a 318 at the Buffalo Grove Sectional. They were led by Kane’s 3-under-par 72, which was her lowest round under par this season. 

Maine South’s Leia Atas advances

Maine South junior Leia Atas was the Hawks’ lone state qualifier as a freshman and this year she’ll once again be Maine South’s only representative at state.

Atas shot a 2-over 77 at the Buffalo Grove Sectional to punch her ticket to this weekend’s state tournament; however, the Hawks failed to qualify one year after making it downstate as a team for the first time in school history.

“It is a little sad, but we all played really well today,” Atas said. “We broke our school record, which is really nice. It’s nice to be able to break our record on the last day together, as a team. … We played our best, too. There’s nothing more you could ask for.”

Atas said the school record for an 18-hole tournament had been 335, and Maine South shot a 330 at the loaded Buffalo Grove Sectional on Monday to finish in a tie for fifth with Fremd. The Hawks also won a share of the CSL South title this year for the first time ever.

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