With three holes to go, the odds were not in Janet Mao’s favor. The NCAA quarterfinal matchup between Northwestern and Stanford was tied 2-2, and Mao was chasing a three-down deficit in the decisive match.
Running out of time, Mao cooly nailed a birdie to force the match to go to another hole. Them, she knocked home a 18-foot birdie to send the matchup to a final showdown. On the 18th hole, Mao and Stanford’s Andrea Lee both parred, and Lee solidified a 1-up victory and Stanford took the match, 3-2.
Northwestern’s season ended in the NCAA quarterfinals, but the Wildcats can still boast about finishing among the country’s top ten in each of the past four seasons.
Seniors Hannah Kim and Sarah Cho were a part of each of those Wildcat teams, and both left it all on the course in their final collegiate matches. Kim defeated Stanford’s Mika Liu 5&3, rolling in a 55-foot putt for birdie to stretch her lead to four holes at one point. Cho earned a 3&1 victory over Emily Wang for Northwestern’s other win.
Without Kim and Cho, the Wildcats will have some work to do to achieve another top-ten finish. But if nothing else, Northwestern has a stable of golfers who have experience playing at the most competitive level twice or three times, so the Wildcats will know what to expect.