Women’s Golf: NU nearly grasps national goals

Steven Montero

Just play a lot of golf.

That’s what sophomore Lauren Weaver said is her plan to improve and advance onto the national stage along with her teammates next season.

In the NCAA Central Regional Tournament last week, a five-stroke difference broke the team’s chances to advance to the national level, which has occurred only once, in Northwestern’s 1999-2000 season. The Wildcats finished 10th, two spots out of a qualifying position for the NCAA Championships. This was the second consecutive year the Cats have qualified for the regional tournament under the leadership of coach Emily Fletcher.

“We gave a good effort, and we really finished pretty strong coming down the stretch,” Fletcher said. “No regrets there, but obviously looking back and only finishing five shots out of advancing to NCAA’s is a little bit bittersweet, but I’m proud of the girls’ efforts.”

The team’s goal each year is to advance to the NCAA nationals and try to become one of the top 20 teams, she said. Although this year the team was making strides toward these goals, the tournament’s last two days posed a difficult challenge for the players, despite the fact they were in fifth place at the end of the first day.

“I was really happy with my first round,” freshman Devon Brown said. “I was the low shooter of the team, and that was a great confidence booster. The next two days I struggled on the second half of my round.”

Even Weaver, who has played at the No. 1 position for the Cats all year, struggled this weekend.

She said she was “really disappointed” in her performance, and she received some of her worst scores of the season. “Bad bogeys” and a double bogey were her pitfalls, she said.

“Lauren played so well all year long and held us in there and was our No.1 player all year,” Fletcher said. “She just struggled the last two days. We need Lauren, and if Lauren isn’t at her best then we tend to suffer a little bit.”

In the face of all this sloppy play, however, the team remained tied for sixth at the end of the second day. Due to the performance of the Lederhausen sisters, the team was able to stay in the mix of the top teams and still had a shot at advancing.

Fletcher said Brown and Weaver played strongly in the first day of the tournament and junior Alex Lederhausen had a “solid” week, but it was senior Rebecca Lederhausen’s comeback that surprised her.

The senior struggled in the first day of the tournament, shooting a 9-over 81. It seemed she might repeat her below average performance at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago, when she finished below all of her teammates.

“That was huge for her to come up two good rounds of three,” Fletcher said. “Playing in our No. 5 position, that’s certainly more than we can ask for, and it exceeded my expectation. I was really proud of her, and I think as a senior it was great to go out. Certainly if we had advanced, she would have been a big reason for why we did because she played so well those last two rounds and held us in there.”

Brown said Rebecca Lederhausen knew her responsibility as the team’s “anchor,” and her play boosted team morale.

“My game came together the second day, ” Rebecca Lederhausen said. “Everything just sort of clicked more. I definitely could have maybe scored a little better, made a couple more putts, but it still felt pretty good.”

Weaver said this tournament brought a lot of positive team energy. They were able to compete with and even outscore some of the best teams in the nation. She said the team has undergone dramatic growth.

“Being tied for sixth going into the third day of NCAA regionals was just unbelievable,” Weaver said. “Last year around this time I remember our team wasn’t even close to that. I just can’t believe how much we’ve improved this year. That was the highlight for me: just being in it.”

Continued success next season will have a lot to do with better putts, stronger swings and improved ball striking, all things Weaver mentioned she can work on, but it will also be readily armed with Weaver’s confidence from her first team All-Big Ten honor and Fletcher’s All-Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year.

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