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Len Ziehm On Golf

ILLINOIS WOMEN’S AMATEUR: Youngest champion in 80 years is just 16

ILL. WOMEN’S AMATEUR: Youngest champion in 80 years is just 16

The Illinois Women’s Golf Assn. has conducted a state amateur championship for 80 years, and this year’s version produced its youngest-ever champion.

Bing Singhsumalee, 16, won the tourney in spectacular fashion, chipping in for birdie on the first hole of a sudden death playoff to defeat Lauren English, a University of Iowa junior from Bloomington, in the title match at Cantigny, in Wheaton.

Singhsumalee, a junior at Waubonsie Valley High School, chipped in from 30 feet on the 362-yard No. 1 of Cantigny’s Woodside nine. Her approach on the par-4 had come up short while English put her second on the green. English missed her birdie putt after Singhsumalee holed out, ending the match.

Singhsumalee took up golf at age 4 at Cantigny’s Youth Links and played there as well as on the 27-hole main layout regularly. The Naperville resident now lists Bolingbrook as her home course, however.

“It’s really fun playing with people older than me,’’ said Singhsumalee. “It’s definitely a new experience, because I’m so used to playing against players 17 or 18.’’

She was 1-up in the title match going to the last hole of regulation play – No. 9 on Cantigny’s Lakeside nine – but English stayed alive by rolling in a 12-foot downhill par putt after both players missed the green with their approaches at the par-4.

English was trying to join brother Kyle as a champion in a top Illinois amateur event. Kyle won the Chicago District Amateur at Medinah in 2011. Their parents, Mark and Mary, are both golf professionals. The Illinois Women’s Amateur will be played at Crestwicke in Bloomington in 2014. That’s English’ home course, and Kyle is now an assistant pro there.

Singhsumalee, shared medalist honors with 2012 champion Elizabeth Szokol, a Northwestern sophomore from Winnetka. Both shot 73s in the 80-player qualifying round.

Szokol was eliminated by Ember Schuldt, a University of Illinois player from Sterling, 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals and English ousted Schuldt 3 and 1 in the semifinals. In that match English made birdies on both back nine par-3s and ended the match with an 8-iron on the par-3 17th that stopped 18 inches from the cup. Singhsumalee earned her berth in the title match by beating 2011 champion Nora Lucas of Chicago 2 and 1.

Cantigny, which has hosted the men’s Illinois State Amateur three times, was hosting the women’s version for the first time and that helped Singhsumalee.

“I feel it was an advantage because I know the feel of the layout and speed of the greens,’’ she said.