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Women’s Golf: Northwestern finishes third at Illini Women’s Invitational

A third-round comeback from Mississippi pushed Northwestern out of second place, but the Wildcats still had a solid showing this week.

Dianna Lee, 2023
Northwestern Athletics

Earlier this week, Northwestern women’s golf traveled to Medinah, Illinois for its third competition of the season — the Illini Women’s Invitational. At the invitational, the Wildcats placed third overall out of 15 teams and tallied an overall score of 850, or -14 on the par 72 course. Out of those 15 teams, five of them (LSU, Mississippi, San Jose State, Georgia, Houston) rank higher than Northwestern’s No. 29 ranking in Golfweek’s team collegiate rankings.

This third-place finish marked Northwestern’s second top-three finish of the season, with the first one being a second-place showing at the Windy City Invitational last week. The only two teams that placed ahead of the Wildcats at the Illini Invite were No. 14 LSU and No. 8 Mississippi.

Northwestern ended the first round in sixth place with a 3-over-par score of 291; sophomore Dianna Lee was the only golfer to shoot under par — getting a birdie. This round was the Wildcats’ most inconsistent of the three, as the best and worst scorers were separated by five strokes (compared to four strokes in the second round and two in the third round).

During Round Two, the Wildcats performed significantly better. They tied SMU as the best-performing team of the whole round, earning an 11-under-par score of 277. That moved the team up to second place overall, only behind LSU.

Freshman Ashley Yun shined in the second round, shooting 4-under to tie SMU’s Ellie Szeryk and Georgia’s Caterina Don as the top individual scorers of the round. Junior Lauren Nguyen had a great round as well by hitting 3-under par, and both Lee and senior Jennifer Cai recorded eagles. Meanwhile, senior Jieni Li posted an at-par score of 72.

Northwestern continued its momentum from the second round into the third, recording a 6-under-par score of 282 and tying Houston as the fifth-best-performing team of the round. Once again, all of NU shot under par in round three. Lee and Nguyen netted eagles, Cai and Yun earned birdies and Li matched her Round Two score with an even-par.

However, Mississippi had a phenomenal third round, recording a score of 273 (the best score of round three) after hitting a 289 in Round Two and a 284 in Round One — allowing the Rebels to move up from fourth and beat Northwestern for second. Ole Miss ended up with an overall score of 846, besting the Wildcats by just four strokes.

Individually, Lee was NU’s highest finisher, tying Mississippi’s Caitlyn Macnab for sixth with a score of 211. Lee was the only Northwestern golfer to hit under par in every round. Nguyen, the Windy City Invite individual champion, also placed in the top 10 by tying for ninth with a 212. Cai and Yun scored 215 points apiece and tied for 19th, while Li had a score of 217 to tie for 27th. Sophomore Jiayi Wang, who only participated in individual competition, established a 220 to tie for 40th.

Next week, Northwestern will travel to the west coast to compete at the Stanford Intercollegiate Invitational from Oct. 20 to the 22nd. Stanford, which is currently ranked No. 2 in Golfweek’s polls, will be one of the toughest opponents that the Wildcats will have to face this season.

After the Stanford Invite, NU is done with its fall season and will take a nearly four-month-long hiatus before competing again at the UCF Challenge in February 2024.