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Men’s Golf: Northwestern looks to upset Illinois at Big Ten Championships

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Dylan Wu follows through. The junior and the Wildcats are looking to upset No. 8 Illinois at the Big Ten Tournament this weekend.

Dylan Wu follows through. The junior and the Wildcats are looking to upset No. 8 Illinois at the Big Ten Tournament this weekend.

Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Dylan Wu follows through. The junior and the Wildcats are looking to upset No. 8 Illinois at the Big Ten Tournament this weekend.

Jonah Dylan, Print Development and Recruitment Editor

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Men’s Golf


Even though Northwestern and Illinois are often considered rivals, the two schools don’t often have meaningful battles in the Big Ten. But the Big Ten Championships could be an exception.

The Wildcats will look to pull the upset on the No. 8 Fighting Illini this weekend at Baltimore Country Club. Coach David Inglis said his team has been working toward this tournament all year.

“Obviously this is the pinnacle of the season,” he said. “This is what we work towards all year, and why we’re working so hard. I’m encouraged by our play so far this year, we’ve got a good body of work. We’ve gotta boil it down to just taking care of the task at hand.”

NU is coming off a stretch where it came close to winning a number of tournaments but couldn’t get over the edge and finish on top. At the Redhawk Invitational, the Cats led by six strokes with just three holes to go but fell by one shot after Iowa State freshman Tripp Kinney eagled the final hole.

At the Boilermaker Invitational, the Cats got off to a slow start and couldn’t recover, eventually taking third in their last tune-up before Big Tens. NU, however, had the lowest score of the day in the tournament’s final round, which could provide the team with momentum as it moves into the postseason.

Illinois is looking to win its third straight Big Ten Championship. The Fighting Illini are led by junior Dylan Meyer, whom Inglis said is a frontrunner for conference player of the year.

Junior Dylan Wu will be paired with Meyer on Friday, and said he’s looking forward to playing alongside him.

“Dylan’s a great player,” Wu said. “He’s won a lot of tournaments, but I’m pretty confident in my game right now and I know if I play well I have a good chance, so hopefully it’s a good battle between us.”

Wu has been a bright spot for NU this season. He won the Redhawk Invitational individually and has a stroke average of 70.27 on the season, on track to break Luke Donald’s record of 70.45 in a season. Wu also leads the Cats in top-five finishes, birdies and rounds in the 60s.

Inglis said Wu has a legitimate shot at winning both the tournament and Big Ten Player of the Year.

“Obviously Dylan has had a phenomenal season,” Inglis said. “We rely on him a lot. He’s our leader. We need everybody to be in the game and our depth really comes into play there.”

Inglis said the Cats will need contributions from other players besides Wu to be successful this weekend. Senior Andrew Whalen finished tied for ninth at the Boilermaker Invitational, while freshman Everton Hawkins was tied for 13th.

Hawkins said entering as underdogs, especially against Illinois, helps motivate the Cats.

“It’s just even more motivation for us,” he said. “It’s just greater competition. Everyone knows they’re the powerhouse and they’re the favorites to win, but I think this is the first year in a while that we think we have a good chance of coming out on top.”

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