After a third place finish at the Illini Women’s Invitational, the ‘Cats arrived at the Stanford Intercollegiate with momentum. The 22nd-ranked Wildcats continued their great play with a second place finish.
With four of the top seven teams in the country participating (Stanford, Oregon, Texas and UCLA), Northwestern had to bring its best to continue its good play. The team started off the tournament with a 1-over par 285, good enough for fifth place after round one. Junior Lauryn Nguyen and senior Jennifer Cai were the only players for Northwestern to shoot under par for the day. Both players posted 1-under par to lead the ‘Cats.
Outside of Lauryn Nguyen, the second round proved to be more difficult than the first. Cai, sophomore Dianna Lee, first-year Ashley Yun and senior Jieni Li all shot over par on day two. However, because of the brilliance of Nguyen, the team was able to improve on their day one score with a 1-under 283 in round two. Nguyen carded a bogey-free 5-under par round, and Northwestern maintained fifth place going into the final round.
The ‘Cats began the third and final round five shots back of USC. They moved up the leaderboard throughout the day with all five players converting at least three birdies. Yun led the way with a 3-under par 68 that included an eagle on the par-5 12th hole. The team finished with a 2-under 282 in the final round. USC closed with a 4-under 280, winning the tournament. The Wildcats’ good day led to a solo second place finish, four shots ahead of third place occupied by first-ranked Stanford and 27th ranked California.
As for the individuals, Nguyen led Northwestern at 4-under par. In her first round, Nguyen shot a 1-under 70 highlighted by a stretch of three birdies in four holes from 12 through 15. Round two was Nguyen’s best 18 holes of the tournament, shooting a 5-under par 66. It tied the best round of any player in the event, and Nguyen took a one shot lead in the individual event going into the final round. Although she didn’t play her best in the last 18 holes, shooting 2-over, Nguyen finished in a tie for fifth at 4-under par. Nguyen continued her good play at the Stanford Intercollegiate, and it was her second top-five finish in her last three tournaments.
Jennifer Cai also had a terrific tournament and finished at 1-under par. In round one, Cai made three birdies along with two bogeys to shoot a 1-under par 70. Cai shot a 1-over 72 in the second round. In her final round, Cai posted a 1-under 70 after finishing her round 3-under in her last four holes. Cai made one of Northwestern’s tournament-leading three eagles at the par-5 1st hole. She finished at 1-under par overall and in a tie for 11th place.
Ashley Yun secured a top-25 finish after her strong play in the tournament. She started off with a 2-over par 73 in round one including three birdies in a row from holes 10 through 12. In round two, Yun shot 2-over for the second straight day. In the final round, Yun made five birdies and an eagle, shooting 3-under 68. She finished at 1-over in the tournament in a tie for 22nd.
Jieni Li and Dianna Lee also competed in the tournament with Li finishing in a tie for 35th and Lee tying for 53rd. Li made six birdies in the final round and shot an even-par 71 for the day and 4-over in the tournament. Lee had two birdies and an eagle in her final round. She shot 2-over in her last 18 holes and finished at 7-over par for the tournament.
The ‘Cats will have four months off before competing in the UCF Challenge beginning Feb. 4. In its last three tournaments, Northwestern has finished second, third and second, and the Wildcats will look to continue their good play in Orlando.