Men’s Golf: Northwestern places second at Fighting Illini Spring Collegiate


Daily file photo by Esther Lim

A Northwestern golfer tries to sink a putt. The Cats finished 26 strokes off the leading Fighting Illini in Urbana, Illinois on April 23.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

Fresh off a string of top-five finishes, Northwestern set off for a shootout against hosts No. 5 Illinois and the rest of a nine-team field at the Fighting Illini Spring Collegiate last weekend.

While the Wildcats failed to remain in contention with the Fighting Illini, coach David Inglis’ team earned a runner-up finish at the midwestern matinee, shooting a 24-over-par 876 to beat third-place Michigan State by nine strokes.

Freshman Daniel Svärd continued his remarkable rookie campaign, eagling the first hole of the event and recording a 1-under first round. Graduate student David Nyfjäll matched Svärd’s total, and the pair sat in second place heading into round two.

However, sophomore Cameron Adam and seniors John Driscoll and James Imai couldn’t keep up with their soaring teammates, combining for a 25-over display. Despite inconsistent performances across the starting-five, NU was six strokes off the lead at the start of the second round.

While the Cats cut one shot off their first round total, Illinois tallied a 280 in the second, widening the gap as the teams approached the decisive final round of action. After 36-holes, NU held fourth-place and sat 22 shots off the leading Fighting Illini.

In a decisive final 18-holes, Svärd put on a putting clinic, tallying seven birdies en route to a 5-under 66 scorecard. The first-year phenom finished second in the tournament, defeating five ranked players.

The Cats’ latter three of Nyfjäll, Imai and Driscoll posted a four par-outing, but their performance proved sound enough to shoot the team up the leaderboard, jumping Loyola Marymount and Ball State for a spot on the podium. With a minus-1 283, NU saved its top performance for its most marquee moment, securing a finalist finish against some of the region’s top golfers.

Just five days removed from their second-place showing, the Cats will head back to work in the Big Ten Championship from Friday to Sunday in Galloway, New Jersey. NU holds a 3-1 record in Big Ten Match play, but none of the team’s previous contests have quite matched the gravity of this weekend’s tournament. 

Svärd will look to build upon his individual performance, but his teammates must match his level to contend for a conference title.

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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