Men’s Golf: Wildcats shooting for strong performance at home

Kevin Casey, Reporter

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Although warm spring weather has not yet hit the Chicago area, the cold won’t stop Northwestern from bombing it down the fairways.

The Wildcats will start competition Monday in their final tune-up for the Big Ten Championships, only with a twist. For the first time since September, NU will be the home squad, hosting the 14-team Northwestern Spring Invitational at the Glen Club in Glenview, Ill., on Monday and Tuesday.

At about this time last year, the Cats traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for the Kepler Intercollegiate. Coach Pat Goss said Ohio State decided not to stage that event this year in order to prepare for the team’s duty hosting NCAA Regionals in May.

Despite the tournament’s cancellation, Goss still believed his team needed to compete, and he realized the best way to do so would be at home.

“It’s really important, to me, to take the week before the Big Ten Championships off and to play this week,” Goss said. “There wasn’t an event out there I really wanted to play, so I figured we’d create one.”

The perks of playing at a home course are not lost on the players. Senior Nick Losole, are the two expected to lead the Cats at the Glen Club. The pair has combined for 10 top-20s and six top-10s this season and possesses the team’s two lowest season scoring averages by a good margin.

In recent tournaments, though, the young guns have announced their presence. Freshman Andrew Whalen posted a 12th place finish in Fresno, Calif., last month and Josh Jamieson, another freshman, has put together some solid play as well. Matthew Negri, a sophomore, has been the most impressive of the trio, finishing first or second among his teammates in two of his last three events.

Negri said the recent youth revolt has added some extra juice to the team.

“Our better play has been really good in terms of creating a lot of competition, good competition, within the team,” Negri said. “When the underclassmen are able to post good scores, the upperclassmen realize that they have to practice just as hard and cannot get lazy with what they’re doing.”

Goss said he hopes this competition will spark something in one of the team’s number of players who have remained dormant.

“One thing about hosting an event is that we can play all three individuals, so all eight players will compete,” Goss said. “It’s really a chance for someone to earn their way into the lineup for the Big Ten Championships.”

The coach is also clear about his goals for the event. With only one team in the field ranked in the top 100, Goss expects his squad to win, as well as one of his players.

NU’s older and younger components have yet to coalesce at one event, but Goss wants this to be the tournament where it happens and gain something huge in the process.

“We’ve played solidly but unspectacularly, what I’m looking for is an event where we finally get four or five guys clicking,” Goss said. “It’s an event where we could have a chance to win, where we can really get some momentum and confidence, it has the potential to be very helpful.”