Northwestern men’s golf was eliminated from postseason play after finishing 11th at the Columbus Regional on May 18. The 13-team field featured eight teams ranked in GolfStat.com’s national top 50 before the tournament began, including the No. 44 Wildcats.
The fierce competition proved to be a challenge early on for Northwestern. With No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 30 East Tennessee State separating themselves from the pack early on the first day, NU immediately found itself battling for the fifth and final bid to the national championship in Scottsdale, Ariz. Graduate student Varun Chopra shot 73 in the first round to lead the way, but the Wildcats’ total score of 295 left them in tenth – five strokes behind No. 11 Georgia Tech.
The ‘Cats improved in the second round, bettering their Day 1 score by six strokes. Big Ten Player of the Year David Nyfjäll, first-year Cammy Adam and junior James Imai all shot even for the day. However, most of the field improved even more. Northwestern moved up into a tie for ninth with Wright State, but its distance from fifth position increased to eight strokes.
The same story held true on the regional’s final day. Chopra and Nyfjäll both shot under par to move up into the top 30 individually. But Wright State and Kentucky both outdueled Northwestern with tournament-best team performances to force the ‘Cats into 11th. The team shot +20 in total, leaving it 10 strokes short of a ticket to Scottsdale.
NU’s 11th-place finish at Columbus and its fourth-place result at the Big Ten Championships mark a slight decline from 2021 when it finished ninth and third in those respective tournaments. But, Nyfjäll’s conference title and success throughout the season helped the program reach individual heights that it hasn’t experienced in over a decade.
With the star senior, graduate student Eric McIntosh and Chopra set to leave Evanston, it will be challenging for Northwestern to maintain its position near the top of the Big Ten. Head coach David Inglis will need to replace over half of his regional lineup. But the ‘Cats have not missed the NCAA Regionals since 2016, which speaks volumes about the program’s ability to develop talent and depth.