Cats tied for 11th place after first round of NCAA regionals

Bernard Schwartz

The Northwestern men’s golf team is tied for 11th place after Thursday’s first round of the NCAA Central regional.

A 12-over 296 left the Wildcats 11 strokes behind the leaders, Houston and Southern Methodist, which both shot 1-over 285s.

Big Ten champion Luke Donald led NU, firing a 2-under 69 that put the junior in a tie for second place, one shot behind leader Chris Chesson of Louisiana-Lafayette.

No. 3 Donald, the defending NCAA champion, is tied with Southern Methodist’s Karl Hansen and Texas A&M’s Matt Lindholm.

Senior Josh Habig shot a 2-over 73 as the Cats’ second-best finisher. And No. 8 Jess Daley shot a 3-over 74.

Other NU finishers were Danny Riskam and Chris Thayer, who shot an 80 and an 81, respectively.

The regional’s 27-team field is competing for the right to advance to the NCAA championships later this month in Auburn, Ala.

The top nine teams advance from the Central regional.

NU has qualified for the championships each of the last three years and finished third at the championships last year.

Besides the No. 9 Cats, five other top-25 teams — including No. 6 Houston — are competing at the regional.

The regional is NU’s first tournament since it dominated last week’s Big Ten championships by 33 strokes and claimed its second conference title in as many years.