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Golf: Disappointing first day performance dooms Northwestern in NCAA Regionals

The ‘Cats were solid on days two and three, but a tough opening round killed their hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth.

NU Sports

After posting a score of even-par after three rounds at the NCAA Regionals, Northwestern wasn’t able to crack the top-five and qualify for the NCAA Championships. Fellow Big Ten teams dominated the tournament, with Illinois winning the region at 25-under and Ohio State coming in second at 20-under. Wake Forest, California and UNLV rounded out the top-five.

On Monday, the ‘Cats dug themselves a hole. Senior Ryan Lumsden was the only Wildcat to card an under-par score, shooting a 2-under score of 70, a score that was good for three shots off the pace. Freshman standout David Nyfjall shot a 1-over round, but scores of 9-over, 5-over, and 4-over from Eric McIntosh, Lucas Becht and Everton Hawkins, respectively, hampered the team.

Tuesday was a bounce-back day for Northwestern. Becht carded a 4-under score of 68 and Nyfjall shot a 3-under round of 69, and Hawkins and McIntosh both improved on their first-round scores significantly, the former shooting 1-over and the latter 2-over. Unfortunately for Northwestern, Lumsden had an off-day, carding a 3-over round of 75. Yet, the team remained within striking distance of a coveted top-five spot.

The final day would prove to be the decisive one for Northwestern. It opened well as Hawkins holed out from the bunker on the second to card an early eagle.

However, it wasn’t meant to be for Northwestern, with no player able to break through on Wednesday. Four golfers shot a 1-under round of 71, and McIntosh was even-par with a round of 72, but it wasn’t enough to catch fifth-placed UNLV, who finished eight strokes ahead of the ‘Cats. The team finished in eighth, meaning its season would be coming to a close in Myrtle Beach.

The tournament marks the end of Lumsden’s career at Northwestern, but the Englishman will be leaving behind an accomplished career. Lumsden earned two all-Big Ten nominations, in addition to becoming the first Northwestern golfer to earn the the Byron Nelson award this year. He also qualified for the U.S. Open last year at Shinnecock Hills.

Six members of the team return next year, and three golfers signed their letters of intent in 2018. Nyfjall will headline the team again next year, as he maintains his ranking as the 51st best amateur in the world heading into the offseason.