Women’s Golf: Northwestern eliminated from NCAAs in heartbreaking fashion


Daily file photo by Brian Lee

A Northwestern golfer prepares her next shot. The Wildcats fell one stroke shy of advancing in the NCAA Tournament.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter

Women’s Golf

After 1,167 strokes over four grueling days, the Wildcats came just a single shot short Monday of qualifying for the match play quarterfinals at the NCAA Championship.

Northwestern finished 15-over par, tied with Arizona for ninth place and one spot behind the eighth place threshold for tournament qualification. That spot was claimed by Oregon, which shot 14-over.

“Unfortunately we made a few careless mistakes, especially putting, a few times during each round,” coach Emily Fletcher said. “You like to put a lot of value on the last nine holes, or the last two or three holes, but the reality is all 72 holes count the same. Whether it’s a three-putt or a missed opportunity in the first round or the fourth round, it all adds up.”

Freshman Stephanie Lau led the Cats, shooting 1-under for her four rounds and finishing tied at No. 11. Lau closed the tournament with a final round 71, which included a birdie putt from the edge of the green on the second-to-last hole of the day, giving NU a shot at qualification.

That dream came crashing down, however, when Lau parred her final hole and sophomore Hannah Kim bogeyed hers. Kim shot a 4-over 76 for her final round after entering the day at even par for the tournament.

“My putting was a little off,” Kim said. “I really tried to fight it, and I think I finished the best I could. Everything happens for a reason.”

Junior Kacie Komoto’s performance dovetailed opposite Kim’s. Komoto closed the tournament with a 1-under final round after entering the day 7-over.

That 1-under included several putts down the final stretch that kept the Cats in the battle for eighth.

“I wasn’t really happy with my rounds the first three days, and I just wanted to end on a good note,” Komoto said. “In my mind, coming down the stretch I just told myself to stay steady, be smart about my decisions, and that resulted in some good approach shots, and I left myself some birdie opportunities.”

Freshman Janet Mao and sophomore Sarah Cho rounded out the NU lineup, as Mao finished tied with Komoto at 6-over for the tournament while Cho finished 12-over.

The ninth-place finish is the best finish in school history, one spot higher than the team’s tenth place finish at last year’s tournament.

The Cats were the best team in the tournament on par-4s, shooting 19-over on such holes, two strokes better than UCLA, which finished atop the stroke play leaderboard at 8-under.

That performance wasn’t matched on par-3s and par-5s, however. NU finished with one of the worst team scores on par-3s at 16-over and finished in the middle of the pack on par-5s at 8-under.

“We played some really great golf this week,” Fletcher said. “Everybody’s game was really quite sharp. We just weren’t quite as good on the greens with controlling their speed at times, so I think that’s what cost us a little bit.”

This is the fourth straight year the team has made the NCAA Championship, and after finishing 15th in the two previous years, the tenth and ninth place finish are notable improvements for the program.

Still, with no seniors in the starting lineup for both the regional and national tournaments this year, the Cats will be looking for more than school records at next year’s tournament.

“Going off from this tournament, we can always look back and show ourselves that we were really close and that when we come to nationals next year, we’ll definitely make it,” Kim said. “I’m really excited to go back.”

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