Women’s Golf: Northwestern aims for return to NCAA Championship this spring behind several key team members


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Junior golfer Irene Kim watches her swing. Northwestern women’s golf is part way through it’s spring season, looking to punch its card back to the NCAA Championship after missing the mark last year.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

Northwestern has set its sight on bouncing back in 2022 after it fell just short of the NCAA Championship last year. The squad reached the Stanford Regional in 2021 but failed to finish among the top six teams and did not proceed to the next round.

Until last season, the Wildcats had reached the championship — and finished in the top 15 — every year since 2013, except 2020 when the championship was canceled due to COVID-19.

“Because of what happened last year, it definitely is our motivation to make it past the regionals and to finals this year,” junior Irene Kim said.

Kim was named Big Ten Golfer of the Year last season after helping her team reach the regional. However, she struggled to maintain her standard level of play this fall and ultimately finished last of all Cats at three of NU’s four events.

Though she has yet to compete for the Cats in the new year, Kim said her play has been on an upward trajectory and she is hopeful for the rest of the season.

From the 2021 squad, Kim, senior Kelly Sim, sophomore Jennifer Cai and sophomore Jieni Li return to the course in 2022. Newcomer Lauryn Nguyen has cemented herself as a consistent starter for coach Emily Fletcher, making the trip for each of the team’s six tournaments so far this year.

Nguyen launched her freshman year with a top-10 finish at the Wolverine Invitational. Since then, she has cracked the top-20 at two other events and finished 2-0-1 at Big Ten Match in January.

Sim’s resume has spoken for itself this season, now including a top-10, top-15 and multiple top-30 finishes, as well as a Big Ten Golfer of the Week honor earlier this month. Sim is the only regular starter for NU who was a part of the 2019 NCAA Championship squad, an experience that could prove vital if the Cats are to make a run in the postseason this spring.

NU finished its most recent tournament at sixth place in a field of 14 teams, with all five squads above it currently ranked in the top-30 nationally.

The Cats currently hold the No. 45 spot and have three tournaments left in their season before April’s Big Ten Championship, their final chance to prove themselves worthy for regionals and ultimately the championship. If Sim, Nguyen and Kim can find strong finishes in upcoming competitions, a postseason run could be more than possible for NU. 

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Twitter: @mkeileen

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