By Adam Yoder
HOWIE-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – While the rest of us were still shoveling out of the winter storm last week, NorthWood junior Cybil Stillson once again made her way back to the Sunshine State and the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour. This time it was a two-day tournament at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.
Ironically, this was her second time on the grounds at Mission Inn, as her older sister and former Panther star, Summer Stillson, played in the NCAA DIII nationals there in her freshman season at Saint Mary’s College in 2018. While that tournament was played on the El Campeón course at Mission Inn, the younger Stillson’s event was played on the Las Colinas course.
On that experience, Stillson noted, “It was definitely comforting to be familiar with the clubhouse, practice facilities, and courses before we arrived Wednesday.”
The Panther ace shot matching rounds of 78 (+12 total) to finish 11th overall in a field that included players from the United States, Canada, Argentina, China, Japan and Malaysia.
Stillson commented, “Being able to play this past weekend was a great experience, overall. I was paired up with a girl from Canada during my practice round on Thursday, and then I was paired with girls from Canada and Japan during both days of the tournament. It was so much fun being able to play and compete outside after having practiced and trained inside since my last tournament in November. It was fun to be nervous before playing again and feel a little pressure on the first tee!”
On day one, Stillson showed a bit of rust, carding four sixes on her card. Understandably, the northern Indiana weather has only allowed her to play outside a few times over the past three months. However, she birdied the par four fourth and par five 12th to keep the pace.
On shaking off that rust, Stillson commented, “I knew that I had to be a little less critical of my game than I would be in the summertime. I don’t want to say that I went into the tournament not expecting to win, because I always want to win, but I also knew that I was playing against girls who train daily at academies in Florida for golf.”
The highlight of the week for Stillson came on day two when she was four over par early in her round through five holes. On the par three sixth, Stillson needed only two shots to card a birdie on the 175-yard hole.
Then on the par four, 405-yard eighth hole, Stillson fired a laser at the flagstick that led to an easy birdie.
On that second birdie in three holes, Stillson said, “I hit my eight iron on my approach shot and it landed a foot left of the hole and spun to an inch from the hole… an eagle would have been nice, but tap-in birdies are good too.”
From there, Stillson added another birdie at the 535-yard par five 13th hole on her way to another solid round of 78.
Jasmine Chen of Pleasanton, California, won the two-day event with matching rounds of 75 (+6 total). Scarlett Schremmer of Birmingham, Alabama, was the runner-up, just one shot behind Chen.
Stillson’s outlook on her next event is a positive one.
“I definitely gained confidence from playing this past weekend against other talented players from around the world who have similar goals, so I am excited to keep working to prepare for my next tournament,” the NorthWood junior said. “I was able to see that what I’m working on during this off-season is right and working for my game.”
Stillson’s next event is another HJGT event at PGA National (Fazio course) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in April.
Here’s to hoping we’re all on the golf courses of Elkhart and Kosciusko County by then.