Men’s Golf: Returning talent from NCAA Tournament team should keep Northwestern among Big Ten contenders in 2022


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

James Imai swings his club. Imai is among five returnees from a team that finished third at the Big Ten Championships in 2021.

Patrick Andres, Senior Staffer

Northwestern was right there. Through 18 holes at the NCAA’s Stillwater Regional on May 17, the Wildcats (2-under as a team) sat in a tie with Illinois for first place. A trip to the NCAA Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona — potentially NU’s first since 2018 —  appeared well within reach. 

Such a trip was not in the cards for NU. The Cats dropped to fifth place after the second round and wound up shooting 25-over as a team to finish ninth in the 13-team field. 

Optimism for the 2021-22 season, however, is grounded in the fact that NU returns virtually all its contributors from a 2020-21 campaign that peaked with a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Chief among them is junior John Driscoll III, named to the All-Big Ten Second Team in his sophomore season. 

Driscoll III had an April to remember, tying for fourth at the Boilermaker Invitational in Indiana and tying for second at the Kepler Intercollegiate in Ohio in a three-week span. His season ended with a 69th-place finish at Regionals but he figures to be one of the Big Ten’s most formidable players in 2022.

Senior David Nyfjäll also landed on the All-Big Ten Second Team. His season reached a high point at the Spartan Collegiate in March, where he fired a 4-under 212 to finish tied for sixth place in an 80-player field. 

Other noteworthy returnees for the Cats include graduate student Eric McIntosh, whose 2-over 218 at Regionals tied him for 16th; junior James Imai, a 20th-place finisher at Regionals and the only NU player to cut his score from the first round to the second; and graduate student Varun Chopra, a 23rd-place finisher at the Spartan Collegiate. 

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Twitter: @pandres2001

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