Golf: Nicole Jeray leading Illinois Women’s Open
By Kevin McGavin For Sun-Times Media July 31, 2013 9:20PM
Hayley Guyton eyes a shot Wednesday at the Illinois Women's Open in Romeoville. | Tori Guyton~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2013 7:07AM
Nicole Jeray intended to be in Scotland this weekend for the Women’s Open Championship.
But the 20-year LPGA veteran failed in the North American qualifier, resulting in a change of plans.
“I really wanted to be (at St. Andrews),” the Berwyn native said after firing a 2-under-par 70 on Wednesday at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville at the Illinois Women’s Open. “I had a great backup plan. My family can watch me here. They couldn’t watch me in person at the British Open.”
Jeray, a two-time champion of the event, is tied with out-of-state competitors Erica Popson and Caroline Powers after opening-round action of the 54-hole event.
Jeray carded five birdies during her round, but struggled slightly coming home on her inward nine after a front-nine 33.
“I played the course very conservatively,” Jeray said. “You just can’t bomb your driver off the tee. My putts didn’t go in on the back nine; they went in on the front nine. I played well, though.”
Samantha Postillion is in prime position to erase a sudden-death playoff loss to Michigan native Samantha Troyanovich last year.
Postillion, the former Hinsdale Central standout and senior at Illinois, was one of four players to finish at 1-under 71.
“(The one-hole loss has) given me some motivation,” Postillion said. “I definitely had some of the shots (during the final round last year) in my mind. The greens were running nice and fast.”
Chicagoan Katie Dick also was in the red with a 71, which Katie Jean, a recent graduate of Illinois State, later matched, largely thanks to a four-birdie run in a five-hole sequence on her back nine.
Erika Malik and Megan Godfrey are among a group of six players two shots off the pace after level-par 72s.
Jessica Yuen, the rising Neuqua Valley sophomore who tied for state runner-up last year at the abbreviated Class AA girls state tournament, is among a five-player group at 74.
“This is my home course,” Yuen said of the links-style layout. “My putter kept me around (level par) the whole time.”
Carolyn Wong has eyes on the 36-hole cut after the Naperville Central alum carded a solid 37 on her inward nine at to finish with a 77.
“I wasn’t striking (my woods and irons) perfect, but I hung in there,” Wong said. “I was consistently in the fairway (off the tee).”
Haylee Guyton had her efforts for a respectable showing sabotaged by a cold putter.
The former Kaneland standout and 2010 Class AA state runner-up, a junior at Illinois State, three-putted twice for bogeys on par-5s coming in for a cumulative 77.
“I hit the ball so well,” Guyton said. “I was so frustrated because my putting just wasn’t there. I hit (my approaches) close but couldn’t make any putts.”
Aurora’s Kim Anderson is among eight players hovering around top-25 status after a first-round 75.
Connie Ellet had the low round among the Elgin-area contestants with a 75, closing out her 3-over round with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
“I needed a round like this,” the former Hampshire and current Northern Illinois team member said. “I haven’t played well lately. (The score) left me smiling instead of frowning.”
Sister Taylor Ellett has work to close on making the cut after a first-round 81.
Jenny Niemiec, a three-time state finalist during her decorated all-around career at St. Charles East, was at 79 after a costly double-bogey finish at the last hole.
“Irons were the main issue (Wednesday),” Niemiec said. “I also had a couple of bad chips and putts out there.”
Sammi Sloan, who twice has been the second-round leader at the state open since her stellar career at Marian Catholic, was in a large group of competitors at 5-over 77.
“I have always been inside the top 10 (at this event),” said Sloan, whose collegiate career at Illinois ended in the spring. “I’m here to have fun and support my sister (Maggie, an incoming freshman at T.F. South).”
Godfrey headlines a sizable group of Homewood-Flossmoor products with her even-par 72. Michelle and Rachel Mayer had rounds of 81 and 91, respectively.
Brittany Johnston, of Plainfield, was among a large group at 79.
Krystal Garritson (Lockport) and Paige Pollack (Mokena) were one shot higher. Angela Dehning shot an 81.