Women’s Golf: No. 15 Northwestern survives in NCAA Regionals, advances to NCAA Championship for first time since 2019


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Senior Irene Kim drives the ball. Kim was NU’s top performer at the Palm Beach Gardens Regional Wednesday.

Lucas Kim, Development and Recruitment Editor

The Cats are dancing once again.

Four years removed from its last NCAA Championship appearance, No. 15 Northwestern is back in the tournament after tying for third place at the Palm Beach Gardens Regional on Wednesday.

The third-seed Wildcats carded a 14-over 878 and qualified for the NCAA Championship as a top-five finisher within their region.

The regional’s 12-team field included No. 3 LSU and No. 10 Texas, but No. 34 Michigan State came out on top with an 8-over 872 –– just six strokes ahead of NU.

It was not all smooth sailing for the Cats. The first round saw NU tally a 12-over 300, good for an eighth place tie with No. 19 UCF. 

But graduate student Kelly Sim shone, starting off hot with a 2-under 70. While Sim sat tied for second, every other Cat ended the first round at least four strokes over par.

Entering the second round, NU was on track to miss the NCAA Championship for the third year in a row. But, with their season on the line, the Cats stepped up, living up to their top-15 national ranking.

A 4-under 284 second round catapulted NU into second place as the team finished day two six strokes ahead of the nearest squad. 

Junior Jieni Li led the charge with a 2-under 70, seven shots better than her round one performance. Sim and senior Irene Kim both tallied a 71, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Dianna Lee shot an even-par 72.

With only seven strokes separating the Cats and sixth-place UCF, the squad still needed a solid final round to avoid dropping out of the top five.

NU did just that, posting a respectable 6-over 294 to maintain its top-five standing. By the end of the tournament, the team dropped to a third place tie with Texas –– just one stroke ahead of fifth place and two strokes ahead of sixth place.

Experience proved pivotal as the two oldest Cats — Kim and Sim — both placed in the top 10.

After playing rotational roles in NU’s lineup over the past two seasons, Kim rose to meet the moment’s magnitude, tallying a 1-over 217 and tying for sixth place. Sim, who is the only current Wildcat who has appeared in an NCAA Championship before, tied for ninth just one stroke behind. 

NU will head to Scottsdale, Arizona for the 2023 NCAA Championship, starting on May 19, where the team will compete against 29 other squads.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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