Daily file photo by Nathan Richards
Whether or not Northwestern will continue its season at the NCAA Regionals will be decided on May 5. This week’s goal was to make the selection committee’s decision a little easier.
The Cats finished tied for sixth-place at the Big Ten Championships over the weekend, further cementing their likely selection as at-large competitors for a coveted spot in the NCAA Championships. The team finished with a three-day total of 9-over par, six shots behind a fourth-place tie between Michigan and Michigan State and 35 shots behind tournament winner Illinois.
A strong closing round helped NU gain two spots on the leaderboard to move into a tie with Purdue. Still, coach David Inglis once again noted that although the team turned in several “good” rounds, a handful of mistakes at key moments prevented those from being “great” rounds.
“It was important for us to put together a solid day (Sunday), and I think we definitely did that,” Inglis said. “It just seems like the same thing we’ve been saying all year, just that we’re really close but couldn’t quite put it all together at once.”
Inglis’ team entered the weekend ranked No. 54 in the country according to Golfstat’s poll, which is widely considered the most predictive of which teams will earn NCAA Regional berths. If that ranking holds then NU will be all but assured of a spot in the postseason.
Even though the Cats may not have laid claim to a Big Ten championship as they had hoped, Inglis said they did enough to solidify their ranking.
“We felt pretty good about where we stand heading into the week and I think that ranking is probably going to stand pat,” Inglis said. “I think our body of work this season is enough to make us deserving.”
NU was once again led by star sophomore Dylan Wu, who narrowly missed his second consecutive top-5 finish, instead tying for sixth-place individually at 3-under par. Wu was followed by senior Josh Jamieson, who continued a string of strong performances by finishing in a tie for 14th at even par. Sophomore Sam Triplett and freshman Ryan Lumsden both carded 6-over par totals to finish tied for 32nd, while senior Andrew Whalen finished in a tie for 63rd at 21-over.
Wu’s play has been heating up of late, and he said he feels like he is one of several Cats who are close to playing their best golf of the season.
“We have a lot of guys who have been playing better than their scores might indicate, and if we can clean those things up we’re gonna be in a good position,” Wu said. “Even for me, I’ve been making a lot of birdies but there have been some dumb mistakes and some areas where I can play better.”
The waiting game now begins for NU. The team will have nearly two weeks to speculate on its future before finding out if it will be moving on and where it will play in its potential regional. Inglis said the team’s practice plans are unlikely to change during that time and it will continue to prepare to make a run at the NCAA Championships.
As for Wu, he said he is confident the Cats are prepared to make their presence felt if given the opportunity to compete for a berth in the NCAA Championships.
“I absolutely think we’re right on the cusp of really putting things together,” Wu said. “Getting through regionals has been our goal all year long, and that is what we’re going to be focused on.”
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