Men’s Golf: Northwestern falters late, finishes ninth in NCAA Regionals


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

James Imai swings his club. Imai shot a 3-over 219 to finish 20th in the NCAA Regionals.

Patrick Andres, Web Editor

Men’s Golf

Northwestern started fast in the NCAA Regionals this week in Stillwater, Okla., tying for first place after the first round, but the Wildcats faded late and finished ninth in a 13-team field, bringing its season to a close. 

The Cats finished with a 25-over 889 as a team at Karsten Creek Golf Club, 10 strokes out of fifth place. The top five teams — Oklahoma State, Illinois, SMU, Sam Houston and Little Rock — advanced to the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Senior Eric McIntosh shot a 2-over 218 for NU’s best individual performance, finishing in a four-way tie for 16th. McIntosh wound up seven strokes behind Colorado State’s AJ Ott, who clinched a berth in the championship as the lowest-scoring individual not on a qualifying team. Sophomore James Imai fired a 3-over 219 to finish a stroke behind McIntosh. 

The Cats came out swinging in the first round, collectively shooting a 2-under 286 to tie for first place with the Fighting Illini. McIntosh led the way with a 69 that landed him in a tie for fourth, keyed by a bogey-free front nine. Sophomore John Driscoll III, NU’s most reliable contributor in the regular season, shook off a double bogey on the 17th to shoot par.

Graduate student Varun Chopra also carded a 72, propelled by birdies on the first and second holes. Junior David Nyfjäll and Imai both added 73s.

The second round — played the same day as the first round due to anticipated poor weather — was less friendly to the Cats, as they shot a 5-over 293 and fell into fifth place. NU ended its first 36 holes a stroke clear of Sam Houston for a potential NCAA berth. 

McIntosh excelled again with a 71, closing the round with 14 straight bogey-free holes. Imai added a 72 on the strength of two early birdies. Nyfjäll, Chopra and Driscoll III all saw their scores increase, with Driscoll III squeezing an eagle, two birdies, two bogeys, two double bogeys and a triple bogey into a highly eventful 77. 

The wheels came off for the Cats in the third round, when four of their five golfers’ scores increased. McIntosh eagled the par-4 sixth, but finished with a 78 that knocked him out of contention. Imai carded a 74 to finish 20th, while Chopra and Driscoll III shot in the 80s to seal NU’s fate.

The Cats made just 35 birdies in the tournament, the fewest of any team in the field. NU’s ninth-place finish was its lowest in an NCAA Regional since a 13th-place outing in San Antonio in 2014.

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