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Golf: ‘Cats finish 13th at NCAA Championships, miss out on match play

A strong second round had the team in the hunt, but it couldn’t sustain the same success over three rounds.

NU Sports

Northwestern women’s golf’s season came to a close in Fayetteville on Tuesday, after the group posted an unfortunate 26-over final round that lasted two days due to weather delays.

It wasn’t the ending to the season that the ‘Cats were looking for, but it marked the seventh straight season that the team finished in the top-15 in the country. USC is the only other team that can claim that feat.

On Friday, NU began its championship campaign with a 21-over round that left the team in 11th place. Senior Stephanie Lau led from the front with a three-over round of 76, while fellow senior Janet Mao posted a six-over round of 79. Freshman Kelly Sim carded a four-over round of 77 and junior Brooke Riley rounded out the scoring with an eight-over 81. Northwestern, who entered the tournament as the 16th ranked team in the country, was just a few strokes from cracking the top eight, a crucial cut line, as only those teams would qualify for the match play stage.

NU made its charge on Tuesday, shooting a two-over round that catapulted the team into eighth place. Freshman Kelly Su led the squad with a one-under round, and Mao, Riley and Sim each carded one-over 74s. Due to inclement weather that plagued the tournament, only 54 holes would be played instead of 72, meaning that the final round would determine Northwestern’s fate.

Unfortunately, that fate wasn’t the one that the team was hoping for. The Wildcats shot their worst round of the tournament and fell all the way to 13th place. No NU golfer was able to finish better than three-over, and three shot ten-over or worse. Overall, Northwestern finished the tournament at 49-over and missed out on the top eight by ten strokes.

The finish serves as a bittersweet end to the careers of seniors Lau and Mao, who earned All-Big Ten honors in all four years and fell just short of a national title in 2017, dropping the final to Arizona State. Their departures will leave a large hole in the team’s roster.

Sim and Riley return next year and project to be the leaders of the team, but it will be an offseason of change for NU. The Wildcats have plenty of talent, but will need to regroup to keep their impressive recent run going.