Men’s Golf: Late rally pushes Wildcats to eighth-place finish in Puerto Rico


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

A Wildcat blasts a shot from the bunker. Northwestern started slowly but closed well to finish eighth in the 15-team Puerto Rico Classic.

Tyler VanderMolen, Reporter

Men’s Golf

It took a while for Northwestern’s play to match the hot Caribbean weather, but when it finally did, it could not have come at a better time.

After a sluggish start to the Puerto Rico Classic, the Wildcats used a late final-round surge to propel themselves to an eighth-place finish in the event’s 15-team field. The Rio Grande, Puerto Rico-held tournament has long featured one of the strongest fields in collegiate golf, and 2016 was no exception, with six participants currently ranked in Golfweek’s top-20.

“You always know that you’re going to see some of the best teams and best players in the country at this event, which makes it a great test early in the season,” coach David Inglis said.  “We certainly didn’t get off to the best start after that first round, but our guys showed a lot with the way they battled back in rounds two and three.”

The Cats sat in 11th place after a first-day team total of 5-over par, but bounced back with a second round total of 1-under and an impressive third round total of 3-under to finish the tournament at 1-over. A flurry of late birdies on the tournament’s final day was enough to push the team past conference rivals Maryland and No. 18 Purdue, who finished ninth and 10th, respectively. Alabama claimed the tournament title at 25-under, followed by Clemson (16-under) and Georgia (13-under).

This marks the second time in as many weeks that NU has bested the Boilermakers, the No. 18 team in the country and one of the presumed favorites in the Big Ten.

“Purdue is a team that beat us pretty easily on multiple occasions in the fall, so to be able to beat them both times we’ve seen them this spring shows how far we’ve come,” Inglis said.  “We talked to the team before the final round and set a goal of finishing as the top Big Ten team in this tournament, and that’s what we were able to do.”

The Cats were led by a trio of usual suspects in seniors Andrew Whalen and Josh Jamieson and sophomore Dylan Wu. Whalen continued a string of strong performances dating back to the fall season and paced the team with a 4-under total over three rounds, good enough for a ninth-place finish individually, while Jamieson and Wu both shot 2-under overall to finish tied for 19th.

Freshmen Pete Griffith (17-over) and Luke Miller (18-over) finished tied for 68th and tied for 71st, respectively, while freshman Ryan Lumsden carded a 4-over total competing as an individual.

“Those top three guys certainly have shown us that we can rely on them week in and week out, especially with Andrew playing as well as he has coming off a redshirt year,” Inglis said.  “We know that the other guys are capable of playing that way as well, but it’s all about finding that consistency.”

While the Cats have a number of positives to take away from their performance this week, the event’s real highlights may have come off the course. Long a favorite stop on the team’s spring schedule, the tournament’s early morning rounds leave ample time for players to enjoy the beach and the sunshine in the afternoons.

Jamieson said these memories are the ones that will have the longest-lasting impact on the team.

“It’s just such an awesome experience getting to be down here with all of these guys and getting a taste of another culture,” Jamieson said.  “Being a senior, this is the last time that I’ll ever get to do this, and I think these are the memories with my teammates that I’ll cherish the most 12 or 15 years down the road.”

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