Illini alum Nowlin is now two-for-two in state open tourneys

Tristyn Nowlin finally won a big golf tournament at Mistwood on Wednesday.

The University of Illinois graduate student from Richmond, Ky., who turned pro two weeks ago, was a runner-up on the Romeoville course twice in 2018.  That year she dropped a match play final to Emilee Hoffman in the Women’s Western Amateur and was edged by Northwestern alum Hannah Kim in a three-day, 54-hole stroke play format at the Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open.

Nowlin wasn’t stymied playing a third different competitive format at Mistwood – 54 holes over just two days – in her return to the IWO. She held off another graduate student who just turned pro, Loukyee Songprasert, in a tense final round to keep her winning streak alive in state open tournaments.

Last week Nowlin won the Michigan PGA Women’s Open at Crystal Mountain.  She’ll follow her win in the IWO with state opens in her home state of Kentucky next week and then compete in similar events in Tennessee and Florida before going to the Symetra Tours qualifying tournament at Mission Inn in California in the fall.

“This whole week was a real blast,’’ said Nowlin.  “This course welcomes you right in, and those previous tournaments gave me a little edge, in that I knew I could play well here.’’

After going 69-69 in the tourney’s 36-hole opening day on Tuesday she managed a 70 on Wednesday to finish at 8-under-par 208. That was two better than Songprasert, who shot the best round of the week – a 67 on Tuesday to get within a shot of Nowlin going into the final 18.

Songprasert, who attended high school in Thailand before doing her undergraduate work at West Texas A&M, pulled even twice in the final round before Nowlin took the lead for good at No. 16. She made birdie there and Songprasert three-putted the next hole for a bogey to fall two shots back.  Both parred the finishing hole.

“In the second round I was more aggressive, and it turned out real good,’’ said Songprasert, who is living in Bloomingdale this summer and working at Medinah Country Club under the guidance of director of instruction Travis Johns. “Today I tried to be more aggressive again, because I was behind, but it didn’t happen. I lipped out four or five birdie putts.’’

Nowlin, who is finishing up work on a Masters degree in sports management at Illinois, had some lipouts, too, but her familiarity with the Mistwood setting helped her overcome that.  Bing Singhsumalee, a former Illini teammate, was her caddie the first two days and another Illini, senior-to-be Crystal Wang, ended up in third place and was the tourney’s low amateur.

The IWO, which was canceled last year because of pandemic concerns, was staged for the 26th time.  Nowlin picked up $5,000 from a $20,000 purse for her victory.

It was Mistwood’s first of two major tournaments in July. The finals of the 90th Illinois State Amateur will be played there July 20-22.