12th-Place Finish Ends Cats’ Season (Women’s Golf)

Franklin Kao

By Franklin KaoThe Daily Northwestern

After a season with its share of ups-and-downs, Northwestern finished with a solid performance last weekend at the NCAA Central Regional Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Needing to finish in the top eight to advance to the NCAA Championships, the Wildcats fell 18 strokes short of Michigan State, which took the eighth spot. NU finished in 12th place, shooting 67-over 919 (308-305-306).

Senior Heather Scholten said she was a little disappointed with the outcome of her last collegiate tournament.

“We ended up 12th, which is how we were seeded. From the outside … it doesn’t look so bad … (but) we really felt like our games were better than the scores put up,” Scholten said. “It was a little frustrating because no one really played like how they felt like they could have played.”

The Cats ended the first day in 13th place, scoring 24-over 308. Tulane transfer Lili Alvarez had the lowest score, 4-over 75, among NU players after the first day. Senior Alice Kim and sophomore Jen Hong were just one stroke behind Alvarez after the opening round.

Though the Cats had their best score on the second round, 21-over 305, their place in the tournament standings stood still. Hong and Scholten were the scoring leaders in day two, both shooting 3-over 74.

In the final round, NU finished with a strong score of 22-over 306, but it was only enough to propel them one spot higher in the tournament. Kim finished the third round with the lowest single-round score of the tournament for the Cats, at 1-over 72.

Scholten said the little mistakes are what prevented the Cats from making the NCAA Championships, a tournament they have not participated in since 2000.

“I made some mistakes along the greens that you couldn’t afford because the tournament was so closely packed that every stroke was counting,” Scholten said. “Little mistakes that you make here or there (are what put you) a little bit higher than a contending score.”

Kim finished with NU’s lowest overall score of 16-over 229 (76-81-72), which landed her in 46th place. Hong and Alvarez both were one shot behind Kim, which put them in a tie for 52nd place. Junior Brittany Johnston finished 24-over 237 for 73rd place, and Scholten finished 25-over 238 for 77th place.

Even though they fell short of the NCAA Championships, the Cats are already looking forward to next year. Hong and Johnston will lead the team, which will be without its three seniors. Kim, who ended her career with the lowest stroke average (75.9) in school history among golfers who have played two or more years at NU, is graduating. So are Alvarez, who finished with the fourth best single-season stroke average in NU history (75.7) and Scholten, who shot her best single-season average this year (77.6).

While the Cats may be losing three of their best players, Scholten is confident next year’s squad will remain competitive.

“The freshmen coming in are going to be a very positive asset to this team. I think the current players are really experienced. Jennifer Hong and Brittany Johnston have played in the postseason all their years at Northwestern,” Scholten said. “There’s a good base left here at Northwestern (for the team) to create their own culture and have the potential to create real success.”

Reach Franklin Kao at [email protected]