NU women’s team gets one rare win, stalls at regionals

Scott Duncan

Women’s Golf

Northwestern took some steps toward making the national championships but still found itself on the same plateau.

For the fifth time in six years, the women’s golf team made the NCAA regional championships. But for the fifth straight year, the Wildcats came up short of qualifying for the NCAA national championships.

“Talent was never an issue,” said senior Ina Kim after the NCAA West regionals. “We just never reached our full potential.”

The Cats finished 14th with a 59-over 953 at the West regionals in Las Cruces, N.M. NU ended up 15 shots out of 8th place, which is the cutoff for qualifying for the NCAA championships.

Despite coming up short of its goal of making the national championships, NU won its first team title since 2001.

Kim led the Cats to a victory at the Mountain View Collegiate on March 27. In the Mountain View, Kim finished second individually and broke records for best single-round score (5-under 67) and best 54-hole round (5-under 211).

Coach Chris Regenberg said the win was a sign of how much the program had progressed over the past four years.

Sophomore Alice Kim, the 2004 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, didn’t suffer a sophomore slump. She finished in 12th place or better in five of the seven spring events.

Alice Kim also finished the season with the best single-season scoring average in NU history with a 75.64 average.

Ina Kim finished with the second best single-season average with a 76.36 average.

Alice Kim and Ina Kim earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors.

“It would have been nice to make the nationals,” said Ina Kim, who is the only player in NU’s lineup that is graduating. “But I’m leaving with a good feeling about the program.”

Men’s Golf

The optimism of the fall turned into disappointment in the spring for the men’s golf team.

After finishing the fall with three top-5 finishes, including a win at NU’s Windon Memorial Classic, the Cats struggled from the start of the spring season and failed to make the NCAA regional championships for the second straight season.

NU took 16th place in its first two tournaments of 2005 and then finished in last place (15th) in the Courtyard by Marriott Intercollegiate on April 9.

“Our bad rounds were too bad, and our good rounds weren’t good enough,” coach Pat Goss said after the Courtyard by Marriott Invitational. “I didn’t see anything positive out there.”

The Cats struggled again in their next tournament, the Aggie Invitational, finishing 11th.

After the Kepler Intercollegiate was canceled because of bad weather, the Cats added the Bruce Fossum/TaylorMade Invitational because Goss said they were worried that without it, they would have no chance of making the NCAA regionals.

The Cats finished fifth in the Fossum Invitational and followed it up with a third-place finish in the Big Ten championships.

But the last two tournaments weren’t enough.

The slow start put the Cats on the wrong side of the bubble for a bid to the NCAA regionals for only the second time in Goss’ nine years as coach at NU.

“We saw some results of our hard work come to fruition at the end of the spring,” Goss said. “But it was too little, too late.”

Goss said the bright spots of the spring were some of the individual performances.

Sophomore Chris Wilson emerged as one of the top golfers in the Big Ten, with four top-20 finishes this spring, including two top-10 finishes.

Wilson earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors and received an individual bid to be the Cats’ lone representative at the NCAA Central regionals in South Bend, Ind.

NU’s entire lineup will return next season, as junior Dillon Dougherty, sophomore David Merkow, and freshmen Dan Doyle and Kyle Moore earned valuable playing time in the spring.

Wilson said the experience of coming up short can only help the Cats next season.

“We learned that we have weaknesses,” Wilson said. “We realize what we have to work on and we can only improve.”

Reach Scott Duncan at [email protected]