Men’s Golf: Northwestern comes up clutch for win in Big Ten Match Play


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

David Nyfjäll lines up to put. He iced Northwestern’s win on the green at Big Ten match play.

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Editor

Men’s Golf

Had the match lasted any longer, Northwestern would have been playing in the dark.

In Big Ten Match Play last weekend in Palm Coast, Florida, the Wildcats advanced to the championship, and then that match against Penn State went into a tiebreaker round.

As sophomore David Nyfjäll lined up to play the 17th hole, it was getting hard to see outside. The entire tournament came down to his match, and he needed to birdie even though it would be hard to find the pin.

But Nyfjäll finished the hole in two shots, leading NU to a tournament victory for the first time since 2018.

“We were almost at our ending point because we really couldn’t see much of what was going on,” coach David Inglis said. “But then David made a great birdie to clinch it. It was very dark, and we were basically playing by moonlight.”

Thirteen Big Ten men’s golf teams participated in the tournament, which was the start of the Cats’ spring season. They played four head-to-head matches and won all of them, giving NU its first win in Big Ten Match Play since 2017.

In the Big Ten Tournament last year, the Cats finished in 13th place. But ten months later, they opened their spring season looking like the best team in the conference.

“It was a great team performance for the whole week going undefeated,” Inglis said. “More than anything else, it’s nice to win, especially against your Big Ten rivals. And it’s great to start the spring season with a good performance. The work we’ve been putting in at home has shown up in our competition.”

Senior Everton Hawkins and freshman James Imai also helped lead NU to a victory. They both won all four of their individual matches at the Hammock Beach Ocean Course.

The Cats advanced to the championship match against the Nittany Lions by winning three times earlier in the week. NU beat Purdue 3-2 on Friday morning and defeated Iowa 4-1 on Friday afternoon. Then, the Cats beat Nebraska 4-2 early Saturday before winning the tiebreaker round against Penn State that night.

Inglis said winning a tournament where every shot mattered was great preparation for the rest of the season.

“Playing under that pressure, that’s great learning for all of our players,” he said. “To deal with those emotions and that pressure, that’s going to serve them well when we get in that position going forward.”

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Twitter: @2021_charlie