Men’s Golf: No. 28 Northwestern misses NCAA Championship in heartbreaking fashion


Daily file photo by Esther Lim

Senior John Driscoll III reads the green. Driscoll III posted a 7-under 209 and tied for 30th place at the NCAA Las Vegas Regional.

Lucas Kim, Development and Recruitment Editor

Following freshman Daniel Svärd’s individual win and a team runner-up result at the Big Ten Championship, No. 28 Northwestern was poised to make a run at its first NCAA Championship appearance since 2018.

But after three days of competition at the NCAA Las Vegas Regional, the Wildcats fell a mere three strokes shy of a trip to the final, losing in a playoff against No. 33 East Tennessee State on Wednesday.

NU ended the final round of the regional tied in fifth place with a 43-under 821. But since only the top five squads advance to the NCAA Championship, a five-hole playoff commenced to determine the final advancing squad.

Following the third round, the Cats finished 16 strokes behind first-place No. 4 Arizona State, who dominated throughout the tournament along with runner-up No. 8 Stanford.

Right from the start, things didn’t go NU’s way. Despite entering as the fifth seed in the 14-team field, the Cats ended the first round in 11th place with a 10-under 278.

However, NU went into the second round with renewed confidence, looking to avoid a repeat of its 11th-place finish at last year’s NCAA Columbus Regional. The Cats put up their best round of the tournament, posting a 20-under 268 and jumping into fifth place — good enough to qualify for the championship.

Sophomore Cameron Adam led the way with an 8-under 64, tied for the best overall individual score in the second round. Svärd, graduate student David Nyfjäll and senior John Driscoll III each tallied a 4-under 68.

With the impressive round, two NU players placed in the top 15 — Adam in seventh and Svärd in 14th — heading into the final day of competition. Despite holding the last qualifying spot, the fifth-place Cats carried only a one-stroke advantage over sixth-place ETSU.

The third round saw the Cats shoot a 13-under 275, largely on the back of Svärd, whose 7-under 65 led any other NU player by at least five strokes. After a 90-minute delay due to lightning, play concluded with a stalemate between NU and ETSU.

The playoff consisted of five holes — hole 11 along with holes 15 through 18 — with a golfer from both squads at each hole. An ETSU birdie and NU bogey on hole 11 put the Buccaneers firmly in the lead, and by the end of the playoff, ETSU (-1) held a three-stroke lead over the Cats (+2).

Despite the disappointing result, NU still enjoyed promising individual performances. Svärd — the 2023 Big Ten Freshman of the Year — tied for fifth, with Adam following up in 20th place.

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Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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