Men’s Golf: Driscoll III shines, but Northwestern can’t capitalize on hot start at Kepler Intercollegiate


Daily file photo by Alison Albeida

James Imai swings his club. Imai shot an 11-over 224 in the Kepler Intercollegiate to finish in a tie for 48th among individuals.

Patrick Andres, Web Editor

Men’s Golf

Northwestern jumped off to an ideal start at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate over the weekend, but fell off late, finishing seventh in a 17-team, Big Ten-heavy field in Columbus, Ohio.

The Wildcats combined to shoot 872 for the tournament — 20 strokes over par and 13 strokes behind team champion Illinois. Among individuals, sophomore John Driscoll III finished in a tie for second place. He shot a 1-under 212, just two strokes back from first-place Cade Breitenstine of Kent State.

NU could hardly have scripted a better opening, putting three golfers in the top 20 through the first 18 holes.

Junior David Nyfjäll fired a 3-under 68, stringing together three birdies in a four-hole span and landing in third place. Driscoll III shot par to check in at 11th, while sophomore James Imai delivered a 72 to tie for 17th. Senior Eric McIntosh and graduate student Varun Chopra added a 75 and a 76, respectively, to lift the Cats into a three way tie with Illinois and Kent State for first place after 18.

The second round was less friendly to NU, as the team recorded a 7-over 291 to drop into a tie for third with Indiana.

Driscoll III replicated his first-round performance, birdieing the 15th and 18th to squeeze out another 71. Chopra also shot a 71 after withstanding bogeys on the 17th and 18th. However, Nyfjäll recorded just one birdie en route to a 75, while Imai and McIntosh increased their scores by two strokes each, ending the round with 74 and 77.

Driscoll III paced the Cats in the final round. He bogeyed the first two holes, but recovered to get back to par with a birdie on the par-5 12th. He closed with a 70 that left him 1-under for the weekend, helping NU stabilize a rough finish. Chopra, Nyfjäll and Imai saw their scores jump by a combined nine strokes round-over-round. McIntosh fired a 74 for his lowest round of the weekend, and first-year Chris Zhang, competing as an individual, carded a 70.

NU’s 42 birdies were a tournament high, with Driscoll III tying for third in the field by making 11. Driscoll III also shot 4-under for the tournament on par-5 holes, trailing only Grant Engle of Ohio State. But the Cats struggled on par-3 holes, finishing in a tie for 10th in scoring and erasing solid showings on par-4 (27-over as a team, sixth in the field) and par-5 (8-under, fifth).

The Cats now turn their attention toward the Big Ten Championship, held this weekend at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. NU finished 13th out of 14 teams the last time the tournament was held in 2019.

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