Men’s Golf: Northwestern starts season strong with second-place finish at Big Ten Match Play Championship


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

Josh Jamieson carries his golf bag across the green. The senior struggled in the Big Ten Match Play, going 1-3 overall individually.

Tyler VanderMolen, Reporter

Men’s Golf

Previous Northwestern teams have established a track record of getting their spring seasons off to a fast start at the Big Ten Match Play Championship.

The 2016 squad certainly lived up to those high expectations, as the Wildcats finished second in the 10-team tournament and carded a 3-1 overall record on the weekend at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida.

NU’s only loss of the tournament came in the event’s championship match against Michigan State, a team the Cats had beaten the day before by a 5-1 margin. The impressive showing gives NU a 24-5 all-time record in the tournament’s eight-year history. Coach David Inglis said the precedent of success gave his team an extra shot of confidence heading into the event.

“It’s something that we talked about with the guys before the first round, just the fact that we won this thing three years in a row not too long ago and that it has just been an event that we’ve played really well at,” Inglis said. “This is one of those events that all of the guys look forward to playing in, and they always seem to bring a lot of fire to it.”

After defeating Michigan State and Nebraska 3.5-2.5 and 4-2, respectively, the Cats drew a tough Saturday morning matchup against No. 18 Purdue in their final round robin match of the tournament. Both Inglis and his players described NU’s 3.5-2.5 victory over Michigan State, one of the nation’s elite programs, as a momentum builder.

NU’s performance was made even more impressive by the fact that perhaps its most important player, sophomore star Dylan Wu, missed the event while representing the Wildcats at the Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase in California. Inglis praised several other members of NU’s deep lineup for stepping up in Wu’s absence.

Among those critical to the strong effort was freshman Pete Griffith. Griffith sat out the event’s first match against Michigan State as part of the team’s planned rotational lineup, but carded a 3-0 record in the Cats’ final three matches, including an impressive 3-and-1 victory over Purdue’s Brian Carlson to help propel the team to the championship match.

“For me it was just about taking it one hole at a time this week, because that’s really the only way to do it in match play,” Griffith said. “I think that’s something that we all tried to do, especially in the Purdue match.”

An uncharacteristically slow start left NU in an early hole in the championship rematch against Michigan State. The team fought back to make the contest close down the stretch, but the Spartans were ultimately able to hang on and earn a 5-1 win.

“I joked with Michigan State’s coach that we beat them first so we should get the trophy,” Inglis said. “They deserve credit though. They played really well and by the time we got it together and started playing a little better there just weren’t enough holes left.”

Despite the disappointing finish to the week, Inglis and Griffith were both upbeat about what the strong result means for the team’s upcoming events. Both stressed the importance of starting out the season on the right foot with so many high profile tournaments on the schedule in the near future.

Griffith also noted the importance of such a strong showing in an event full of conference rivals.

“This result only means good things for us going forward,” he said. “We know how good the Big Ten is, and I think it was important that we came out right away and set the tone for what we want this season to be.”

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