The greens are smooth, the drivers have pop and the bunkers look tiny. At least, that’s the case for Northwestern’s women’s golf team, which has been on a tear for the past two weeks.
Heading into this week, NU had notched a decisive victory at the ASU PING Invitational. Before the team’s trip in Tempe, Arizona, Golfstat had the ‘Cats ranked No. 23 in the nation. 846 cumulative strokes later — 14 ahead of the second-place finisher (No. 11 Arizona State) — Northwestern was shooting up golf rankings across the internet.
Operating with mojo and the No. 16 position in the Golfstat hierarchy, the Wildcats flew to California to participate in the Silverado Showdown, a tournament boasting a course spanning over 6,000 yards and a field of competitors who make up eight of the top 25 in Golfstat’s rankings.
Northwestern’s clubs were dialed in, teaming up for 873 strokes over three days of play — good for another first-place finish, beating out No. 13 Texas A&M by seven strokes.
Dianna Lee, a first-year and California native, tied for second in the entire field, finishing well under par on each of the final two rounds of competition after having one of the rougher starts (+4 on Day One) among NU’s golfers. Jieni Li, a junior, also tallied a top-five result, ending +1 on the three-day stretch.
Lee tied for the most birdies at the Invite (12) while Li matched second-most (10). Sophomore Lauryn Nguyen added consistency for the ‘Cats, tapping in 40 pars over 54 holes.
As a collective, the five golfers competing for Northwestern averaged the best results on Par 4s (4.11) among any school in attendance. The ‘Cats “struggled” the most on Par 3s, ultimately finishing +13 at the Showdown. Still, that figure was good compared to most of the field, but it simply paled in comparison to the outcomes the team earned on longer pars.
The squad is two weeks out from the Big Ten Championships, which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a bit over a month away from NCAA Championships. Heading into the back nine of their season, the ‘Cats haven’t flinched in the face of stiff competition. Now, it’s time for NU to polish its clubs, whittle down the squares on its scorecards and head to the driving range.
Ohio State (No. 24) is currently the only other conference team ranked in the top 25, so the Big Ten Championships need to serve as a continuation of the success the ‘Cats have seen in Tempe and Napa.