Women’s Golf: Monday collapse leaves Northwestern looking for answers

Ken Durbin

The Wildcats headed out west looking to strike gold in the 18-team Dick McGuire Invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico. The event was a 54-hole tournament on a unique par 73 setup featuring five par 5s at the university’s championship course in Albuquerque. The team played superbly over 36 holes on Sunday and sat squarely in the lead, with Denver two strokes behind. Pacing the team was sophomore sensation Devon Brown, who sat alone in fourth place with a sparkling 2-under 144. She came out firing with four birdies on the front side en route to a stellar 3-under first round. Sticking close to her teammate was junior Lauren Weaver with an 1-under 145, which consisted of a impressive 2-under 71 to kick things off, followed by a shipshape second round.

However, as most golfers have found out, sleeping on the lead can be tricky. Northwestern struggled to close the deal Monday and wound up 14-over on the day. They ended the tournament in fourth place out of 18, just one shot back of Texas Christian University and Denver for second place and five strokes behind the winning squad, the Baylor Bears. The NU frontrunners from the weekend, Brown and Weaver, struggled to keep the magic going their way as they both finished with bogey-filled final round 77s.

The Cats weren’t the only team to struggle on Monday, as the entire field crawled to the tape on Monday. Brown barely dipped on the leaderboard, managing to stay in the top 10 while Weaver hung on to finish tied for 12th place. The top overall performer from the Cats was senior Alex Lederhausen, whose steady play over the three rounds paid off. After quietly posting a 74 and a 73 on the first day, she roared up the leaderboard on Monday with the best score of the day, a 1-under 72, to land in a tie for fourth at even par overall.

The two freshmen on the squad, Hana Lee and Brittany Mai, took some bumps and bruises but earned valuable collegiate tournament experience along the way. Mai started the Invitational on a strong note, with back-to-back 2-over rounds, but faded 24 places on Monday with a final-round 80 to conclude the tournament tied for 48th place. Lee was done in by a few sixes and sevens on the scorecard on the way to a disappointing 75th place tie after her laudable debut performance at the Dale McNamara Invitational, in which she finished tied for sixth place.

NU is back at it next week, Oct. 3-4, when it hosts the 2011 Windy City Invitational at the local Glen View Club.