Men’s Golf: Northwestern survives course and weather to finish fourth

Kevin Casey

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In conditions that no one would envy, Northwestern battled it out to the end in Columbus, Ohio.

The Wildcats struggled through pouring rain during the first two rounds of the Kepler Intercollegiate on Saturday, sitting in sixth place in the 15-team field with 18 holes to go. But on Sunday with winds gusting, the team put up the day’s best score with a 10-over-par 294 and passed Xavier and host Ohio State to finish in fourth place.

NU’s charge allowed them to finish just three shots behind Big Ten foe and No. 40 Indiana, a team they trailed by 13 going into the day. NU finished seven shots behind SMU and eight shots behind tournament winner Kent State, two teams also in the top 50 of the college golf rankings.

The story of the tournament was Ohio State’s Scarlet Course, which brought out all of its defenses. Already difficult enough at 7,455 yards, the course only exacerbated high scoring with brutal weather conditions brought over each of the two days.

The course scoring average for the whole tournament was over 78 strokes per round and 17 players shot rounds of 85 or above (including one who shot in the 90s).

In these brutal conditions, Eric Chun led the team once again with another high finish. The senior held his game together on the incredibly difficult layout to post rounds of 73-77-73 and finish in fifth place at 10 over par.

Chun hovered close to the lead during the final round, getting within two shots before finishing three out of first. Despite his strong challenge though, Chun came away disappointed at his performance.

“All the things I’ve been doing so well for the past few months weren’t very good this week,” Chun said. “I feel like I should’ve won the tournament by five or six shots, but my putting and my short game let me down this week.”

Directly behind Chun on the leaderboard were senior Sam Chien and junior Nick Losole. The duo didn’t have their best stuff in the first two rounds, but with final rounds of 71 and 72 respectively, the two each shot up more than 25 spots up the leaderboard.

Chien went all the way from a tie for 44th to a tie for 13th and Losole moved from a tie for 36th into a tie for 9th.

Losole attributed his impressive final round to his strategic course management.

“It was very windy out there and it was a tough day, so I was just being very smart about where to hit the ball strategically and missing in places where I’d be able to get up and down,” Losole said. “Basically, I found the best ways to make par throughout the day.”

Playing on a course that Chun said really strained players’ focus throughout, NU was served a great test in their last tournament before the Big Ten Championships.

The big event, which will be played from April 27-29 in French Lick, Ind., will be played on a similarly difficult golf course that won’t allow many birdies.

Losole noted that many of the players on the team have shown good form in the last month. With two weeks of practice and some good play to look back, Losole believes the team is looking good heading into the important event.

“We just need to tidy up these next two weeks on what we might struggle with and take it from there,” Losole said. “The Big Ten Championships aren’t that far away and I think we’re in pretty good shape.”