Men’s Golf: Wildcats look to ride momentum from fall into Big Ten Match Play tournament


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

A golfer swings his club. Graduate students Varun Chopra and Eric McIntosh look to lead Wildcats after a disappointing finish in last year’s Big Ten Match Play.

Kyle Leverone, Assistant Sports Editor

White snow and gray slush on the ground, winds whirling from the north, and temperatures near the single digits: golf season has arrived.

Northwestern starts its 2022 spring campaign in February with the Big Ten Match Play tournament in tropical Palm Coast, Fla..

No. 28 NU comes in as the second-best nationally ranked team in the Big Ten behind No. 22 Purdue. Nine other Big Ten schools will be participating this weekend.

The event is formatted as a single-elimination tournament bracket and lasts from Friday to Saturday. Each team match will include six individual matches.

As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, Northwestern will have a first-round bye and play the winner of the Iowa/Minnesota match on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning will consist of the semifinals, and the afternoon will reveal the champion.

Graduate students Varun Chopra and Eric McIntosh along with junior John Driscoll III all finished with two individual wins in the tournament last year. But after going into the event as the No. 1 seed, the Wildcats finished in sixth place, losing to Penn State 3-2. 

Looking to lead NU to a better finish this time around, Chopra comes into this tournament leading the team in scoring average from the fall, shooting a 70.27 in four tournaments. Following close behind is fellow senior David Nyfjall, who averaged a 70.92 in four events as well. With the two seniors at the helm, the Wildcats were able to finish 14th in national scoring, finishing with an average of 283.25 and 3.75-under par.

Overall, the team comes to the Hammock Beach Resort Ocean Course riding some fall season momentum. As the late September host of the Windon Memorial Classic at Lake Shore Country Club, the Cats finished second in a 14-team field including several Big Ten opponents.

One week later, NU brought home the hardware after finishing in a three-way tie for first place in the Hamptons Intercollegiate tournament in New York. Nyfjall finished top-10 in both events.

With the momentum from the fall season, solid senior leadership, a chip on their shoulder from last year’s disappointing finish and a little bit of sunshine, NU appears in a good spot to contend in this year’s Big Ten Match Play tournament.

On a whiteboard in the locker room of last week’s practice round course, Eric Gleacher, the donor of NU’s Gleacher Golf Center, wrote, “The most valuable logo you’ll ever wear is the N on your chest.”

With that in mind, the Wildcats look to add a “No. 1” next to the “N” after Saturday.

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Twitter: @KLever0ne15

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