Men’s Golf: Northwestern fades to disappointing fifth-place finish

Josh Walfish, Reporter

A tournament that began with so much promise ended Tuesday in bitter disappointment for Northwestern.

The Wildcats shot a tournament-worst 14-over in the final round to drop from second to fifth place, 12 shots behind the winner at the Gifford Intercollegiate. NU golfers shot three of their four worst rounds of the tournament in the final round: the Cats had to count scores of 5-over and 8-over after not having to count a score worse than 2-over in the first two rounds Monday.

“Overall we had a solid fall,” coach Pat Goss said. “Our body of work was very solid, but everything we’re doing is progressing to being the best team we can possibly be by the time Big Tens and NCAAs roll around (in April and May).”

NU’s struggles on the course Tuesday were not limited to the team’s bottom three golfers. Senior Jack Perry and freshman Matt Fitzpatrick had up-and-down rounds, although both stabilized themselves to shoot a combined 1-over par. However, the Cats could not overcome their bottom three players, shooting a combined 23-over par with three double-bogeys and two quadruple-bogeys.

Goss attributed the issues to not being able to handle the pressure of being paired with the defending national champions.

“Obviously it’s a hard game,” Goss said. “We had a great opportunity to play with a great team that’s now unbeaten for 10 consecutive tournaments. … Jack and Matt responded really well — neither played great, but they played solidly. We just had three golfers who couldn’t handle the moment.”

If Tuesday was the worst NU could play in a tournament, Monday marked the Cats at their best. At the end of 36 holes, four of NU’s five golfers were in the top 15, led by Perry at 2-under par. The highlight of the day came from sophomore Josh Jamieson, who shot the first sub-30 round through nine holes in program history en route to a 64 Monday afternoon. It was the lowest round by an NU golfer since September 2009, when Sam Chien shot a 64 at the Navy Fall Classic.

Goss said he has worked with Jamieson a lot on his wedge play, which paid dividends Monday afternoon. The sophomore strung together four consecutive birdies and an eagle on the par-5 8th to card his 29 on the back-nine after starting on the 10th.

“He really got a good vibe to him and he played really well,” Goss said. “Whenever somebody can put a good round together and shoot a 64, it’s good for us because it shows he can play well.”

The Gifford will certainly leave a sour taste in the Cats’ mouths as they head into the winter break. NU won’t hit the course for competition again until the Big Ten Match Play Championships in mid-February, and the past two days will certainly give Goss a lot to think about for the next three months.

“It feels pretty crummy now to have a great opportunity and let it slip away,” Goss said. “We got ourselves in the types of situation we needed to get into. Once NCAAs get here, we need to learn from this experience. It was a good teaching moment for us as coaches.”

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