Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s Golf: Northwestern earns victory at PING/ASU Invitational

Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal
Senior Jennifer Cai surveys the green. At the PING/ASU Invitational, Cai collected her seventh top-20 result this season.

After finishing a mere stroke short of first place at early March’s Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, Northwestern entered its next competition looking to finally get over the hump.

Coach Emily Fletcher’s squad did just that, recording its first team title this season at the PING/ASU Invitational Saturday with an 11-under 853 (284-285-284) over 54 holes.

The victory seemed almost inevitable for the Wildcats, who have finished as runners-up in three of their last six tournaments leading up to this past weekend.

“This group has just continued to compete hard,” Fletcher said. “For them to get a win, I’m just really proud of them, and I think it’s an encouragement to them to keep doing what they’ve been doing.”

Facing off against a stacked 17-team field featuring seven of the nation’s top 15 squads, NU edged second-place California by three strokes.

Leading the ’Cats was freshman Ashley Yun, who logged a career-best performance, finishing in third with a 6-under 210.

Fletcher said the freshman showed early flashes of brilliance but has not been able to put it together for a full tournament until this past weekend. The PING/ASU Invitational marked Yun’s first time breaking the top 15. 

“We knew Ashley would make great contributions to our team this year,” Fletcher said. “It was really encouraging for us to see her get some results and see her hard work come to fruition — but we’re not surprised by this.”

Yun paced NU in first-round play, tallying a tournament-best 4-under 68 to lead the ’Cats to a share of third place on day one.

Senior Jennifer Cai followed not too far behind, firing a 3-under 69 and maintaining her exceptional form after earning her first career victory at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. Cai concluded the tournament tied for ninth place with a 3-under 213, her seventh top-20 result this season.

The senior’s recent success serves as a testament to her resilience, Fletcher said. Last year, Fletcher left the 2022 All-Big Ten first teamer off her starting rotation for a stretch of tournaments.

“(Jennifer) has been just relentless in her work ethic and her desire and her willingness to learn and improve,” Fletcher said. “It’s really fun to see her starting to play well this time of year.”

Standing three shots off the lead, NU climbed the leaderboard on day two. 

Behind sophomore Dianna Lee’s 4-under 68 — an 11-stroke improvement over her first round performance — the ’Cats earned a share of first place with No. 3 UCLA. No other player on Fletcher’s squad finished the second round under par.

With several teams within striking distance, the victory was far from guaranteed. It would take another round of solid play if NU were to secure the title.

The ’Cats delivered as Yun and Cai both logged a 3-under 69 to lock up first place. The duo hit a collective eight birdies on day three en route to a pair of top 10 finishes.

NU will be back on the road next week for the Silverado Showdown, its last regular season tournament.

With postseason play looming, Fletcher will rely on her squad’s ability to fill in for one another and bounce back from adversity.

“Anybody can step up and be one through five or five through one,” Fletcher said. “I think that’s one of our great strengths, and I think it’s something that will keep us very competitive into the postseason.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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