Potent Pair (Women’s Golf)

Franklin Kao

The Daily Northwestern

Kareem and Magic. Timberlake and Timbaland. Bert and Ernie. These are all duos that have bred success in their respective professions. This year, Northwestern’s women’s golf team can say the same for their new pair: seniors Lili Alvarez and Alice Kim.

Like the first three talented sets, Alvarez and Kim have adopted a relationship built on friendship and support rather than rivalry.

“I don’t necessarily think we compete against each other, we each try and do our individual best,” Kim said. “I never thought of Lili as competition in any kind of way, she’s just a strong attribute to make Northwestern stronger as a whole.”

Alvarez said she and Kim work with each other to become better.

“I want to see Alice play well and she wants to see me play well,” Alvarez said. “It’s never an issue. It’s a motivator.”

Alvarez is a fifth-year senior getting her masters’ degree in public policy and administration at NU. She transferred from Tulane University after the school shut down its golf program following Hurricane Katrina.

When Kim found out about Alvarez’s transfer, she was excited with the news due to their previous relationship: Kim and Alvarez both played in the Mercedes Benz Collegiate Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2004.

Alvarez said she remembered a specific putt that Kim had missed at the tournament. While watching the ball go in and out of the hole, Alvarez was trying her hardest not to explode with laughter, out of respect for Kim. When Kim looked up at Alvarez, the two both burst out laughing together. The two have bonded over the missed putt all season, Alvarez said.

Kim said that Alvarez’s character is what stuck in her mind after they first competed against each other three years ago. This season, the team has benefitted from the character that Alvarez has brought.

“She’s definitely … an inspiration in her outlook in how she expects us to do,” Kim said. “She’s so encouraging, she adds a better attitude. She strives for such excellence that it pushes the rest of us to set high goals for ourselves.”

Although Alvarez has brought a winning attitude that’s been contagious, she has also learned a number of things from the team.

Kim has offered useful tips for shots that have given Alvarez problems in the past, Alvarez said.

“I trust her opinions because she’s such a great player,” Alvarez said. “We both play together a lot and check each other’s swings.”

During the fall, the two tied to lead the team in top-10 finishes, with two each. While Kim finished with a team-low 75.08 shooting average in the fall, while Alvarez was right behind her with a 75.89 average.

Both golfers have carried their performances into the spring, earning top-5 finishes at the Red Rocks Invitational and the Mountain View Collegiate.

On March 4, the Cats snatched first place at the Red Rocks Invitational in Sedona, Ariz., from Washington State University – winning by one stroke.

Washington State was up three strokes before the last hole, but NU was able to come back and reclaim first place when the match was finished. Alvarez finished tied in first with a 3-over par (73-74), while Kim finished tied for third at 4-over (72-76).

Alvarez birdied on the last hole to move into the tie for first and give the Cats the one-shot win.

At the Mountain View Collegiate, Alvarez finished second, including shooting a single-round course record in the second round, to help the Cats take second in the tournament – four strokes back of winner Nebraska.

The two, along with the rest of the Cats, will harness their energies to compete in the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. No matter the outcome of the tournament, NU, and especially Kim, has definitely appreciated the addition of Alvarez this year.

“I really do think Lili is just amazing and she’s brought so much to the team,” Kim said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like without her and we’ve only had her for half a year.”

Reach Franklin Kao at [email protected]