Men’s Golf: Cats, Chun look to bury Big Ten opponents

Sarah Kuta

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Eric Chun has a funeral to attend this weekend – the Big Ten funeral.

As Northwestern heads to State College, Pa., this weekend for the Big Ten Championships, Chun said that is his mentality. In the first tournament of postseason play, the freshman plans to be the last golfer standing in a field that includes all 11 Big Ten teams.

“I just want to have a strong attitude,” Chun said. “I’m in that mindset to destroy everyone. It gets me pumped.”

After the Big Ten Match Play Championship in February, Chun coined the funeral phrase to get himself and his teammates in a competitive mindset. The expression has helped Chun focus ever since.

“I’m kind of a passive, laid back person off the course,” Chun said. “I don’t want to bring that out there with me.”

The Cats are ready to be aggressive on the course after a weekend off. Rainy weather proved to be the running theme during their week-and-a-half preparation for the postseason.

“It’s been a crummy week,” coach Pat Goss said. “We surely got the most out of it that we could. The guys have had positive attitudes in spite of not being able to practice how they want to.”

The Cats will be notified Monday whether they received a bid to compete at the NCAA Central Regional. Goss said he assumed the only way the team would not be given a bid is if they finish this weekend in the bottom half of the standings.

“This weekend definitely still counts,” Goss said. “I feel pretty solid, but nothing is 100 percent. If we play well, I’m confident we can secure a spot.”

Among other teams, the Cats will take on in-state rival No. 14 Illinois. The Fighting Illini have registered a school-record six-team tournament victories this season and will be coming off of a three-tournament winning streak. Illinois has proven a difficult opponent for NU over the last several seasons.

“A big part is if we can get off to a good start and get in the mix right away,” Goss said. “We can’t afford to dig a hole and try to come back.”

Goss said every conference team is playing well this year, mostly due to the coaches’ effort to improve play. The Big Ten Match Play Championship exemplifies the conference working together to improve Midwest golf.

Junior David Lipsky said he was disappointed with the Cats’ 13th place finish at the U.S. Intercollegiate, but did not think it was indicative of how well the team would play in the postseason.

“We are due to play well,” Lipsky said. “We are just now hitting our stride. Each one of us knows what we have to do, and that’s all I could ask from my teammates. I am more than confident that we can win Big Tens.”