Women’s Golf: Wildcats look to adapt to match play against top competition


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

A Northwestern golfer follows through on her swing. The No. 4 Wildcats will have rough competition this weekend as they face every top-7 team.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter

Women’s Golf

The top seven teams in the country face off in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic this weekend, including No. 4 Northwestern, which is looking to follow up on its third consecutive Hurricane Invitational victory with a win in Georgia.

The Wildcats’ quest for back-to-back victories won’t come easily, as they enter the tournament behind fellow top-5 entrants: No.1 Duke, No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA.

“It’ll be great for us,” coach Emily Fletcher said. “It’ll be great experience and great competition. I just want to see us continue to improve and compete at a high level.”

In addition to the top three teams, the tournament also includes No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Georgia and No. 7 Arkansas.

Sophomore Hannah Kim, coming off a dominant victory in NU’s previous tournament, has been busy over break preparing to face top competition.

“I just want to play confidently and play assertively,” Kim said. “I know that I put in the hours of practice, so I just have to trust what I worked on.”

Kim was not alone in her intense preparation over break.

Each player had the opportunity to return home, relax and work on their game before the team came together for an intrasquad match play competition in Arizona to wrap up the time off.

“It was fun to be back in that competitive environment with your teammates,” sophomore Sarah Cho said.

The Cats’ focus on match play was no coincidence, as the upcoming Classic features only a single round of stroke play, followed by three rounds of match play on Saturday and Sunday.

The format is similar to the NCAA Championships at the end of the year, but very different from most tournaments on NU’s schedule this year.

“It’s really about getting our kids comfortable with that format,” Fletcher said. “Since it is different than what we play day in and day out it can be a little bit unsettling, and so our goal on Spring Break was really to embrace that. I think it’s a great look forward as to what we might have at the national championship.”

Although the course stays the same in a match play competition, the competitive environment is much different from an average round of golf, forcing players to adapt.

Kim spent much of her Spring Break practice preparing her game for the unfamiliar format that the team will face in Georgia.

“Coach really wanted us to get into that match play mentality,” Kim said. “I worked on playing a lot more aggressive and just playing more assertively.”

NU will look to improve on its performance from last year’s tournament, as the Cats finished fourth following a win over then-No. 7 Arkansas but saw losses to host Georgia and then-No. 5 Duke.

The format presents various challenges, and Fletcher’s main concern is the demeanor of the team throughout the tournament.

“We want to keep a good attitude in match play because there’s so many swings up and down,” Fletcher said. “My expectation and challenge to our girls is to just stay engaged and keep a really good attitude and keep fighting.”

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