Women’s Golf: With Big Tens looming, Wildcats seek strong return to stroke play


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Hannah Kim completes her backswing. The junior and the Wildcats are seeking a strong effort at the Silverado Showdown.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter

Women’s Golf

For the first time in over a month, Northwestern will enter a stroke-play competition as the Wildcats travel to Napa Valley, California, to compete in the Silverado Showdown this weekend.

In the past month, No. 15 NU has played in three different match-play competitions, allowing the Cats to prepare for the final rounds of the NCAA Championship in May. NU was one stroke shy of reaching the match play round last year.

“We’re looking forward to getting back into some stroke play,” coach Emily Fletcher said. “We’ve got four rounds there, and we’re just looking to build some momentum going into the postseason. We’ve had a good winter, and a good spring thus far.”

After a seventh-place finish in a top-heavy field at San Diego State March Mayhem, the Cats triumphed at the Pepperdine Triangular later in the month, defeating No. 10 USC and the hosts in the process.

Last weekend, NU travelled to Durham, North Carolina, and split the first half of a home-and-home match play set with No. 7 Duke this year.

“Match play has been huge for us,” junior Hannah Kim said. “We’ve been able to compete against some really good teams, and we’ve done pretty well all around, so it’s been encouraging going forward.”

The team struggled overall on the first day, winning only one matchup, but dropped just one match on the second day as Kim, senior Kacie Komoto and sophomore Stephanie Lau all picked up victories.

Lau was particularly impressive, beating defending national champion Virginia Elena Carta 4-and-3 for the squad’s sole victory on day one.

“I was just trying to treat it like any other round,” Lau said. “Virginia’s one of my really good friends, but it was pretty cool to be able to beat her.”

Match play, however, is not the end of the journey for NU, and the Cats will have to turn in impressive performances at NCAA Regionals and the four stroke play rounds at the national championships.

At this weekend’s tournament, the Cats are more focused on preparing for the upcoming Big Ten Championships. This is the last stroke-play event the team has scheduled before it attempts to repeat as Big Ten Champions for the third time in a row.

“It’s certainly helpful for preparation,” Fletcher said. “The fact that the course has a Midwest feel to it means that the transition will hopefully be pretty easy. It’ll be good preparation for Big Tens for sure.”

Last year, NU’s tune-up tournament before the Big Ten Championships didn’t exactly go as planned, as the Cats came in eighth at the Ping Arizona State Invitational in a 14-team field.

That underwhelming performance didn’t stop them from snagging a share of the Big Ten title two weeks later, but coach Fletcher is hoping for better results from this year’s final regular season tournament.

“We’re just looking to kind of pull it all together right now,” she said. “We hope our hard work can pay off.”

Email: josephwilkinson2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson