WALNUT — The Illinois Valley Women’s Golf Invitational is coming back to Green River Country Club in Walnut on Sunday for the first time in six years.
However, as of Tuesday’s sign-ups, no past champion will be coming in this year’s field.
Defending champion Carol Balconi, a three-time winner, returned last year to her home course at Edgewood, winning the title in memory of her mother, Pat, who had recently passed away. She will not be in this year’s field, nor will 2013 runner-up Penny Booker-Derick, a two-time champion, and 2013 third-place finisher Gwen (Holmes) Roseberg of Princeton.
Six-time champion and Spring Valley native Carrie (Riordan) Davis is enjoying life as a new mom living in Florida and chasing her little girl rather than the little white ball these days.
Also absent will be 2012 champ Katie Farrell, who is attending school in Florida, and Cheri Russell of Morris, the 2012 champion. Green River’s own Roberta Benevento, who won the tournament in 1997, 1998 and 2000, will not be playing for the home team.
Rookie Sophia Suarez of Chapel Hill Golf Course, who just signed up, has emerged as a top contender. The 2013 BCR Golfer of the Year, will be a senior at Princeton High School. She will be joined by her mother, Claire.
The 56th annual IVWGI marks just the second time Green River has played host to the event. The field is in great shape for a great tournament, tournament director Karen Anderson of Green River said.
“We are very excited to have the tournament again. Green River CC is in great shape this year, thanks to our employees and a lot of volunteer mowing by our members,” Anderson said. “We had a play-day (July 23) with 26 women, so we are hoping that got some ladies excited about the tournament, and they all seemed to enjoy the course.”
Long-time tournament player and booster Kathy Potthoff said Green River has some nice players and will benefit from the home course advantage. She noted she played with Anderson, who turned in a 39, in the recent Play Day there.
“Angie Carls and the rest of their gals shoot well. They will have a strong playing field,” Potthoff said. “Green River is in great shape and ready for a great tournament.”
Anderson said they have discussed a few different tee time options, depending on the number of sign-ups. She said things ran pretty smoothly in 2008 with just a little wait, alternating groups coming off No. 9 and new groups going off No. 1.
Chip shots: Riordan-Davis was the champion in 2008 the last time the IVWGI came to Green River. Edgewood was the team champion.
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