Ace paces NU’s 3rd-place finish

Andrea Cohen

In women’s collegiate golf, a hole-in-one is almost unheard of. Unheard of and, according to freshman Hana Kim, very lucky.

So Kim should consider herself fortunate – she aced a 146-yard par-3 last weekend at the Spring Buckeye Invitational.

Kim’s first-round hole-in-one in Columbus, Ohio – where NU finished third – was so unexpected that it shocked everyone, most of all herself.

“I think I was the last one to realize it,” Kim said. “I didn’t have my contacts in so I couldn’t really see the hole, and all of a sudden everyone went crazy.

“A hole-in-one is 99 percent luck.”

Kim played a solid tournament, finishing seventh overall, and was Northwestern’s top team finisher for the first time this year. Sophomore Elizabeth Burden and junior Emily Gilley finished close behind, tying for eighth. While Kim said she does not feel that this top finish will necessarily make her a leader on the team, she said that it was still important.

“I hope that this gives my teammates confidence in me,” Kim said.

The No. 19 Wildcats’ third-place finish left them 12 strokes behind No. 18 Michigan State and 13 strokes behind the tournament champion and host, No. 15 Ohio State.

The field at the Buckeye Invitational included seven Big Ten teams that the Cats will face at the conference championships in Minneapolis April 27-29. The Cats’ main competition at the Big Tens will come once again from the Spartans and the Buckeyes.

The Cats said they are confident that they can beat these teams as long as they stay mentally focused.

“We had a meeting about this and our coach (Chris Regenberg) said that the only thing they have that we don’t is a mental edge,” Kim said. “If we go in with the mindset that we’re better – and we are better – we’ll win.”

With three players finishing in the top 10, the Cats played off their teammates’ positive energy.

After a poor first round on Saturday, in which she shot a 12-over 83, Kim bounced back with second- and third-round scores of 72 and 71.

Burden’s best round of the tournament was her first, in which she shot a 73. She shot an 80 in the second and a 75 on Sunday to finish out an encouraging weekend, though she said she was unhappy with some aspects of her game.

“My short game was poor this weekend – I didn’t convert on the greens,” Burden said. “That really showed through in my second round.”

Gilley played consistently throughout the tournament, shooting rounds of 76, 78 and 74.

The Cats also saw strong play from senior Christie Hermes, who finished 27th.

NU is working on developing a tougher mental attitude for the Big Tens, but the Cats will have to do it quickly, as they have few opportunities to practice this week.

“We leave Wednesday (for Minneapolis) so we don’t have much time to prepare,” Burden said.

After Minneapolis, the Cats head to the NCAA regional tournament May 10-12, where they hope to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Florida May 24-26.