Cats head to Michigan State for final regular season tournament

cott Duncan

Men’s Gold

A year without an NCAA Regional championships appearance is normal for some teams, but for the Northwestern men’s golf team under coach Pat Goss, it’s a drought.

From 1997 to 2003, the Wildcats played in the NCAA Regionals, but the streak was broken last year when the Cats were denied an eighth-consecutive appearance.

And NU is in jeopardy of finding itself outside of the NCAA championships again — unless it snaps its spring slump with a strong performance at this weekend’s Bruce Fossum/TaylorMade Invitational in East Lansing, Mich.

NU added the tournament after last weekend’s Robert Kepler Intercollegiate was canceled because of bad weather.

“The Kepler is critical for regional qualifying,” Goss said. “Without it we were worried we’d be on the bubble or even on the wrong side of the bubble. So we added the Fossum Invitational.”

Because of the large number of central region teams, this weekend’s tournament is similar to the Kepler Intercollegiate. To earn a bid to the NCAA Regionals, the Cats need to have a high finish against these central region opponents.

Goss said some of the critical teams NU needs to outperform this weekend are Indiana, Xavier, Michigan State and Minnesota.

Although the Cats have struggled in the spring, they have improved since the start of 2005. After two 16th-place team finishes and a 15th-place finish, NU took 10th place at the Aggie Invitational in its last tournament.

Freshman Kyle Moore broke into the lineup for the Courtyard by Marriott Intercollegiate on April 8. A week later, Moore had the best tournament of his career, finishing tied for 12th at the Aggie Invitational.

Sophomore Chris Wilson emerged this spring with two top-20 finishes, leading the Cats with a 74.59 scoring average. And although junior Dillon Dougherty has not returned to the form that got him the individual title at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in October, he had his best finish since October with a 46th-place finish at the Aggie Invitational.

To earn a spot in the NCAA regionals, the Cats need to build on the last tournament with a convincing performance at the Fossum Invitational.

“It’s the last regular season event,” Goss said. “We need to play well this week or our NCAA hopes are riding on winning the Big Tens.”

Reach Scott Duncan at [email protected]