Scarlet fever: Cats take 3rd over weekend

Bernard Schwartz

When golf teams walk off the Scarlet Course at Ohio State, they usually leave with red faces and bloodied scores.

No one looks forward to playing the Scarlet. The layout is hard, with holes too long to reach in regulation and pins you wouldn’t want to reach anyway.

But add to that the rain and cold of a Midwest spring and that’s what the Northwestern women’s golf team faced at this weekend’s Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational.

Nevertheless, NU rose from fourth to third during Sunday’s final round, when the weather relented and the Cats shot a final round 307.

It was NU’s lowest total all weekend and allowed the Cats to pass Kent and finish 12 strokes behind the winner, Ohio State, and six behind runner-up Michigan State.

Sophomore Emily Gilley was NU’s best finisher, taking 10th with the consistency of an opening round 79 followed by back-to-back 78s.

Elizabeth Burden led the Cats Saturday with a 77 and 79, but a final-round 81 dropped the freshman into 14th.

All told, NU placed five golfers in the top 25. Christie Hermes fired a team-best 76 Sunday to place 18th.

And Karen England followed her teammate, shooting a 77 in the final round that left her tied for 22nd. Kristen Beystehner rounded out the Cats’ five, tying for 25th at 241. Everyone was humbled by the Scarlet.

Host Ohio State — which plays Scarlet as its home course — won with a 65-over-par 929. Runner-up Michigan State shot 71-over, and NU managed a 77-over 941.

“The course is really long and tough,” Hermes said. “Some of the par 4’s are unreachable, which means that we’re left having to get up and down for par.

“But it was a better feeling this weekend to climb the ranks to finish third and not fall like we did last week.”

The Cats have been consistent this spring, taking third place at four of the season’s six tournaments.

While NU may have been ambivalent about its less-than-spectacular performance at the Buckeye, the team has not been satisfied with recent performances.

“We’re just tired of getting third place at every tournament,” Hermes said.

Still, those unexciting thirds pay off in the end. NU is trying to play in the postseason for the first time in team history.

The Cats hope to qualify the whole team as well — not just Gilley, who went as an individual last year — for the NCAA East regionals.

The Midwest District standings determine which teams receive berths, and NU is safely in fifth. Final standings won’t be determined until after the Big Ten championships this week, but the Cats don’t appear worried that they will fall.

“We need to play well at the Big Tens,” Gilley said. “But it doesn’t really affect us that much. We don’t have any teams that can close us out, and we’ve closed out most of the teams we needed to.”

April has been a busy month for the Cats, who have been on the road every week and who will travel once again this week to Madison, Wis., for the conference tournament.

The Cats have been to Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State in consecutive weeks, facing the Big Ten’s best at the expense of their studies.

“It’s been rough traveling so much,” Gilley said. “Everyone’s trying to catch up this week before we leave on Wednesday.”