Women’s Golf: Wildcats hanging tough through 54 holes

Kevin Casey, Reporter

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A full three rounds are in the books at the NCAA Championships, and Northwestern is not doing too shabby.

The Wildcats finished their first 54 holes of the 72-hole event Thursday, posting a third-round team total of 300, the squad’s worst score of the week.

Nonetheless, NU barely moved down the leader board. The team was tied for 12th after the first day, slipped to 14th over the next 18 holes and now stands in a tie for 15th with just one round to go.

The placement may not sound great, especially in a tournament with only 24 teams, but this is the most prestigious event of the season. Fourteen of the top 15 teams in the nation are in Athens, Ga., this week, and every single team competing is ranked in the top 50.

With that in mind, the No. 24 Cats are actually slightly outperforming their ranking. The team is ahead of four squads in the top 20 and behind only three teams ranked 25th or worse.

The relatively normal position did not mean NU played the tournament conventionally, though. After her surprising team-leading performance at Regionals, Suchaya Tangkamolprasert has stepped up her game again. The freshman started her tournament in Georgia with beautiful rounds of 71 and 72, and although the 76 on her scorecard Thursday did not look as good, Tangkamolprasert still sits in a tie for 24th. That is easily good enough to be in first on the team, as the next closest to her is sophomore Hana Lee in a tie for 55th.

Daily continuity has been sorely lacking from the squad. During the first round, three team members shot 75 or below, while the other two ballooned to scores of 79 and 82. Elizabeth Szokol, who registered that opening 82 and followed it up with a marginally better 78, inexplicably posted a scintillating round of 70 on a day when her other four teammates averaged a score of 77. The freshman bogeyed holes 13, 14 and 15 to ruin a good start, but then promptly got all three of those birdies back on 16, 17 and 18 to give her that red number.

The Cats will complete the fourth and final round of the event Friday. Although the team will likely not win the tournament — they are 46 shots behind leader USC — the final 18 holes could be very important to the team. If the Cats can get four solid scores from Friday’s round, they may be able to sneak into the top half of the field or move into the top 10.