Northwestern facing big test at Kepler Intercollegiate

Zach Buchanan

On the surface, Northwestern is heating up heading into this weekend. The Wildcats just recorded their second tournament victory of the season at the Notre Dame Invitational, and even had a golfer take top individual honors.

But there is a big difference between last week’s tournament and this week’s Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, and no one knows that better than head coach Pat Goss.

“Obviously, Kepler’s a little better field [of teams], a tougher golf course,” Goss said.

Six teams ranked in the Golfweek top 50 will be competing in the tournament, including conference foes No. 24 Michigan State, No. 36 Penn State, and No. 40 Michigan.

Still, Goss said he feels the Cats’ confidence and winning ways will carry over into the three-round event this weekend, which is hosted by Ohio State.

“The hope was getting a good start at Notre Dame would jump-start us and give us a little confidence so we’ll hit a little bit of a groove here for the stretch run,” Goss said.

NU needs to place high, if not win its next two tournaments to qualify for the Big Ten championships, and scoring a win over the three ranked Big Ten teams at Kepler would undoubtedly make beating them in the championships a less daunting task.

To do that, the Cats would have to utilize the advantages they have. Despite its shaky record of late (four wins under .500), the team has fared well against the Big Ten’s elite, which should add a boost of confidence.

“We beat Michigan, barely lost to Michigan State when we played them,” Goss said. “I think we really think we can get going here and be the best team in the Big Ten.”

Not only do the Cats have experience beating some of the top teams in the conference, they also have experience winning this particular tournament. Two years ago, NU took first place at Kepler, highlighted by then-sophomore Kyle Moore’s first-place individual finish.

According to Goss, Moore’s past success could lead to another successful weekend.

“I think any time that you go some place where you’ve felt success and been handed a trophy, those are all things that bring back those confident feelings and remind you of what a good player you are,” Goss said of Moore.

Moore, along with fellow senior Dan Doyle, has been in a slump as of late. While Goss said he is confident the team can win without stellar performances from its seniors, he knows that to compete at its best, Moore and Doyle have to play well.

And according to Goss, they will.

“I know they’re great players,” Goss said, “and I think we’ll be seeing great golf from them before we’re done.”

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