The Daily Northwestern

Men’s Golf: Northwestern ties for first at home tournament

Everton Hawkins surveys the green. The sophomore led Northwestern to a tie for the win at the Windon Memorial Classic.

Everton Hawkins surveys the green. The sophomore led Northwestern to a tie for the win at the Windon Memorial Classic.

(Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette)

(Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette)

Everton Hawkins surveys the green. The sophomore led Northwestern to a tie for the win at the Windon Memorial Classic.

Benjy Apelbaum, Assistant Sports Editor

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Men’s Golf

SKOKIE — Northwestern has the opportunity to play at home just once a year and the Wildcats made the most of it this year, surging into a tie for the win on the back of a superb final-round performance.

After three rounds over two days and 835 strokes apiece, NU and Penn State could not be separated atop the 15-team field at the Windon Memorial Classic. The Cats picked up five strokes on the Nittany Lions in the final round to finish tied at 5-under-par. The win is the first of the year for the Cats, who struggled in their first two tournaments of the season.

“We know that we’re a good enough team and that the last few tournaments don’t mean that we’re not a good team,” senior Dylan Wu said. “We did well last year and we had a lot of people return so we knew we were good, but we needed to step up. The coaches told us we needed a kickstart to our season and we accomplished that.”

NU started the tournament strong, shooting 4-under as a team in the first round Sunday morning. The Cats were paced by a 4-under 66 from junior Ryan Lumsden, who continued his hot start in the second round before collapsing to shoot 7-over on the back nine.

Lumsden was not alone, as the whole team regressed in the second round Sunday afternoon, shooting 6-over and dropping into fifth place heading into the final day.

Monday’s round was NU’s best, as it surged into the lead with the assistance of 3-under rounds from both Wu and sophomore Everton Hawkins.

As the round came down to the wire, the Cats had a slim lead over Penn State, but the Nittany Lions closed the gap with late birdies. The day began with a shotgun start in which all groups of golfers took the course on different holes at the same time, so each group finished play at around the same time, adding to the drama.

With no easy way to communicate scores across the course, players and coaches could only guess at their position, Hawkins said.

“I actually had no idea what was going on and I didn’t know the scores at all,” he said. “I didn’t know it would be that close, I was just trying to play it one stroke at a time.”

Hawkins finished the individual competition tied for third at 3-under, the best result on the team. Coach David Inglis said he was particularly proud of the sophomore’s play and believes Hawkins can continue to play at an elite level for the rest of the season.

Wu said the home course advantage also played a role in NU’s excellent performance. He said the team practices at Evanston Golf Club about once a week and that those rounds over the course of his four-year career added up to give him a deeper understanding of how to play each hole.

Most importantly, Inglis said, he hopes the performance at home will help give the Cats confidence as they proceed with the rest of their season.

“We’ve been improving since the start of the year and it has taken a little time to hit our stride,” he said. “It was the jumpstart to the season that we really needed.”

Twitter: @benjyapelbaum