Northwestern may have failed to attain a trip to NCAA Championships this season, but at least one of the team's players was recognized for his success.
On Sunday, the Golf Coaches Association of America named Jack Perry a Division I PING All-America honorable mention selection, the first such accolade he has received in his three years at NU.
The spot on the exclusive list puts Perry among the top 60 players in all of Division I collegiate golf, something made all the more impressive by the fact that thousands and thousands of quality players operate in that sphere. The Wildcat also becomes one of the main attractions at the highest level of amateur golf as he enters his final year at NU, in line to possibly produce the best individual golfing season the school has seen since the days of Luke Donald.
It's all thanks to a junior campaign where Perry played sensational golf. The clear top player on the squad, the California native rolled off a victory in the very first event of the fall and kept it going from there, finishing inside the top 25 in each of his next five tournaments.
A bastion of consistency, Perry produced a score between 70 and 74 in each of his first 22 competitive rounds of the season. Yet, the enterprising junior still new he could improve. The results soon morphed further in his favor, as two closing rounds of 69 allowed him a ninth place finish at the U.S. Intercollegiate and, in the very next tournament, he exploded for scores of 67, 67 and 66 on his way to an 8-shot victory and a new NU record for number of strokes (200) over 54 holes.
While Perry stalled a bit at season's end with what he classified as disappointing performances at Big Ten Championships and NCAA Regionals--where he still finished 7th and 17th respectively for the record--it was overall a highly positive year on the links.
Perry placed in the top 30 in all 11 of his stroke play events, a few of which were against a slew of ridiculously talented squads. Among those finishes were five top-10s and two victories, demonstrating that consistency doesn't necessarily mean boring. And if there were still any questions about the junior's play, they were answered when he received the Les Bolstad Award, an honor bestowed upon the golfer in all the Big Ten conference with the lowest scoring average during the regular season.
Perry's stroke average at that time was 71.61, and moved up to 71.88 by season's end, neither a school record but nonetheless feats in their own right.
If this is what Perry could do in his third year at NU, what will happen in his fourth? He has made significant strides every year of his college career, and no threat appears imminent in halting his progress. Perry is already an All-American, so where does that leave expectations for his final go round with the Cats?
Quite high at the very least. As easy as that is to do though, Perry's return to competitive golf at NU is still a summertime away. The young man should enjoy his validation as one of the elite collegiate golfers in the United States.
More practice should render further improvements and, in due time, Perry may take that last step toward greatness.