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 closes out regular season with second consecutive victory

Photo courtesy of Albert Chang
Junior Lauryn Nguyen follows through on her swing. Nguyen collected her fourth top-10 finish this season at the Silverado Showdown Wednesday.

It’s like deja vu all over again.

Last season, Northwestern made headlines by dominating its late-season tournaments, earning wins at the PING/ASU Invitational and the Silverado Showdown before heading into postseason play.

One year later, coach Emily Fletcher’s squad did it again. A week after securing a narrow victory at this year’s PING/ASU Invitational, the Wildcats mounted a furious comeback to earn a share of first place at the Silverado Showdown Wednesday.

NU enjoyed top-15 performances from three golfers and overcame an 11-stroke final-round deficit to share the team title with Southern California.

The ’Cats carried over their momentum from the previous week’s win in first-round play, jumping out to second place at 3-under. Sophomore Dianna Lee paced the team with a round-low 5-under 67 and six birdies, propelling her to first place individually.

However, day two proved to be the biggest roadblock of the competition. NU suffered a 14-shot drop-off, carding an 11-over 299 to slide down to third place.

Junior Lauryn Nguyen was the only ’Cat to finish at or below par, tallying an even-par 72 in a round filled with unforced errors, according to Fletcher.

“(The course) definitely played tougher in that second round,” Fletcher said. “We got a little bit impatient, frustrated and tried to force things a little bit.” 

The second round proved tough for the entire 16-team field. No squad hit below 3-over, helping Fletcher’s squad maintain a top-three position entering the last round.

A win still seemed far-fetched, though, with then-first place USC holding a nine-shot lead over second place Arizona and an 11-shot lead over third place NU.

However, in an improbable comeback, the ’Cats logged a round-best 4-under 284 to advance up the leaderboard, capitalizing on the Trojans’ 7-over performance to share the title. Both freshman Ashley Yun and senior Jieni Li fired off a 3-under 69 to lead the team.

The result came down to the wire as USC still held a one-shot advantage heading into the last couple holes. But Yun’s birdie on her last hole of the tournament gave NU its second straight tournament win.

“It’s hard to believe that it can come down to one shot, but it does,” Fletcher said. “So much of it is keeping your head down and playing to the very end. You never know when you’re going to count, and so every shot matters.”

Nguyen led the squad, tying for eighth place individually with an even-par 216, while Li and Lee finished tied for 11th and 13th, respectively.

With Wednesday’s result, the ’Cats have finished in the top-four in eight consecutive tournaments, spanning back to last October. The team has also won multiple tournaments in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2017.

Fletcher said the program’s year-to-year consistency has helped dispel the notion that schools in colder, rougher climates are inherently disadvantaged.

“It just speaks to the continuity of how we continue to prepare,” Fletcher said. “We have a process, we have the resources to really improve and develop. We don’t have to have good weather in order to do that.”

NU will make its next appearance at the Big Ten Championships next Friday, looking for its first conference championship since 2016.

With their recent performances, the ’Cats will enter the postseason ranked No. 7 in the nation. With no other Big Ten team ranking better than No. 30, NU remains the clear tournament favorite — a fact that doesn’t seem to bother Fletcher.

“They’re not handing out any trophies for people having the best ranking right now,” Fletcher said. “Everything we’ve done up to this point should give our players a ton of belief in themselves and confidence, but you got to remember, it owes you nothing in the next three rounds that you’re about to play.”

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Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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