Daily file photo by Nathan Richards
Last year, Northwestern turned in a dominant performance at the Big Ten Championships, as then-freshman Sarah Cho took the individual title while the Wildcats split the team crown with Ohio State.
This year’s team is looking to repeat that performance as a stepping stone on the way to the NCAA Championships. Coach Emily Fletcher, however, said she isn’t ready to get that far ahead.
“We’re looking to be the best we can be,” Fletcher said. “I think if we do that the results will come.”
After taking a disappointing eighth at the Ping/ASU Invitational two weeks ago, the No. 8 Cats have been hard at work in practice.
With the extra week off, the team could afford to cover all the bases, including more than one trip off the course and into the gym.
“We got in a few good workouts, just trying to push the girls physically a little bit, challenge them, and they’ve done a really good job with that,” Fletcher said. “We also gave everyone the opportunity to do what they needed to do individually to work on the areas that they felt they needed to work on.”
For sophomore and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Hannah Kim, that meant making sure she could rely on the elements of her game that helped her set multiple school records at the Hurricane Invitational back in the winter.
Kim showed a glimpse of that potential two weeks ago, leading the team in Arizona, but she finished four-over-par and in 17th place. She will need to play better if NU hopes to win in Indianapolis again.
“I really worked on my shots and my putting just because I know that they’re my strengths,” Kim said. “I wanted to be more confident going into this week knowing that I have them for backup if anything goes wrong.”
Kim will be joined by sophomore Sarah Cho, junior Kacie Komoto, senior Suchaya Tangkamolprasert, and freshmen Stephanie Lau and Janet Mao.
After taking the title last year as a freshman, Cho won the team’s first tournament of the year, the Dick McGuire Invitational, in the fall.
During the rest of the fall season, however, Cho failed to shoot an under par round, and although her game was better throughout the winter, her last competitive round was a 10-over-par 82 in Arizona.
Even with her recent struggles and status as defending champion, Cho has a rather carefree attitude coming into the tournament.
“I don’t really think those kind of things,” Cho said. “I kind of focus more for the team, so I just play my best golf. There’s not any extra pressure or anything.”
The team will need that focus, and even though the next highest-ranked Big Ten team is No. 29 Ohio State, the Cats have already seen that anything can happen on the course.
Regardless of the inherent uncertainty in any round of golf, NU has been putting in work in the interim that could lead to a bounce-back performance after a two week break.
“This is all part of the plan,” Fletcher said. “We really just took a step back and assessed, each player, kind of what they needed to do to be their best leading into this week, and we attacked it from there. This is just how we wanted it to play out, and I think it gives us the best opportunity to be at our best going into Big Tens.”
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