Men’s Golf: Northwestern falls short of NCAA National Championships

Kevin Casey

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In a tournament packed with high-quality teams, Northwestern couldn’t make the final charge it needed and fell just short of theNCAA National Championships.

The Wildcats finished eighth at the NCAA Bowling Green Regional, one place ahead of their seed, but three spots outside a berth to the national championship tournament.

The top five finishers at the regional moved onto the NCAA National Championships, and with a 17-over-par finish, NU came just five strokes short of that goal.

Part of the problem, as coach Pat Goss noted, was the team’s slow first-round start which left the

Wildcats in ninth place with 36 holes to go.

“Like the Big Ten Championships, we struggled with the slow start as we were a little too trepidacious,” coach Pat Goss said.

However, solid second-round play pushed the team up to tied for sixth position and four shots off the qualifying pace.

It was the final 18 that proved to be NU’s downfall. Only one player was under par for the round, and the team actually fell two spots at a time when qualification was within its grasp.

“We put ourselves in good position, if we even played a solid final round we could’ve qualified,” Goss said.

“We did all of the stuff we needed to do to give ourselves a chance, but we just didn’t take care of the opportunity.”

Still, the abrupt end to NU’s season doesn’t dampen what the team accomplished this spring.

The Wildcats stormed out of the gates with a victory at the Big Ten Match Play Championships and added two more after that.

Although seniors Eric Chun and Sam Chien didn’t play as well as usual at regionals – with finishes of 23rd and 57th respectively – the duo has been a consistent force in their senior seasons.

Chun attributed his poor play in Kentucky to mental errors, but he has benefited a great deal from his four years at NU.

“I’ve learned so much at Northwestern through Coach Goss,” Chun said. “I didn’t just learn about improving my game, but how to play golf in general, and I have created a relationship with Coach Goss that will also help me out in the future.”

As for the rest of the team, there is much to be excited about.

Goss said that he will miss Chun and Chien both for their golf and their personalities, but starters Jack Perry, Nick Losole and Bennett Lavin will still be there to keep the team on track. Perry placed in the top 10 three times this spring, including a ninth-place finish in Kentucky.

“I was really in control of my game,” the sophomore said. “My short game allowed me to score when I wasn’t hitting it well, I made a lot of good up and downs to get under par.”

These flashes of brilliance have Goss seeing a lot of potential in the talented young player.

“When everything is going well for Jack, he can really put it all together as he has shown at times this season,” Goss said. “His good golf is really good. He should be all-Big Ten next year and could potentially be an All-American if everything goes the right way.”

Losole, who was restricted by a back injury in the fall, returned to form in the spring. He finished in the top 10 twice, showing that when his game was together, he could be a great asset for NU. The junior still has a lot of room to improve. His 30th-place showing at regionals was his best finish this spring outside the top 10. His second-round 73 at regionals was a prime example of his inconsistency, as the round included four birdies, three bogeys, two double bogeys and a hole-in-one.

Overall even though the team loses its two most consistent seniors, Perry believes with himself and Losole as leaders and a strong younger core, the team could be even better next season.

“Along with Nick Losole, I want to be a leader and help develop the younger players because if our current freshmen develop well and we have a good incoming freshmen class we could be really good,” Perry said. “We could feasibly win the Big Ten Championships and make it to nationals next year.”