In a spring sports season featuring dominating performances from women’s lacrosse, women’s softball and women’s golf, Northwestern men’s golf may have gone under the radar. Normally a lock for the middle tier of the Big Ten, the team enjoyed their best season since 2000, led by strong seasons from Ryan Lumsden, Dylan Wu and Sam Triplett. This past weekend, the Wildcats competed in the NCAA Tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma. They came into the weekend as the No. 33 team in the country and were one of two Big Ten teams (along with Illinois) to secure a berth.
Before we get into the recap, I must say this is one of the better hype videos for golf I have ever seen (which, admittedly, is not a very long list).
On Friday, Northwestern put on a performance for the ages. On a day with two rain delays lasting over three hours, the Wildcats made themselves known to everyone at the Karsten Creek Golf Club, to say the least. Northwestern broke the course record by 2 strokes in shooting an 8-under 280. By the end of the round (which concluded on Saturday), Northwestern had a four-stroke lead over second-place Texas Tech. Individually, Lumsden was tied for the lead after posting a 5-under 67. Besides Lumsden, Everton Hawkins (-2), Sam Triplett (-1) and Dylan Wu (E) were on the leaderboard with impressive showings.
The #B1GCats absolutely BLITZED the Par-5 No. 18 to finish an extraordinary 8-under-par opening round.— Northwestern Golf (@NUGolf_Live) May 25, 2018
Quite a performance, but there's plenty of golf left to play.
Coach David Inglis knew that a repeat of Friday’s miraculous performance was impossible, saying, “You’re not going to escape this place without struggling at some point.” He was right: The rest of the weekend was not kind to Northwestern. As rain turned into blistering heat over 90 degrees, the ‘Cats fell down the leaderboard just as quickly as they ascended it on Friday. On Saturday, none of the five Wildcats shot better than a 76 on the par-72 course. Their round score of 308 was the worst the 30-team field. Meanwhile, their course record lasted one day, as Alabama topped it with a 9-under 279. No bueno.
Northwestern entered Sunday tied for 19th and needing to move into the top 15 to advance to the next round. They started off hot, as Eric McIntosh (-1), Triplett (E) and Wu (E) finished the first nine holes even or better. However, on the all-important front nine, results were far more scattered. All golfers except Triplett (E) finished over par, and ultimately the Wildcats ended up on the outside looking in, tied with Stanford (who the women’s team lost to in the NCAA quarterfinals) for 16th place.
The season was not quite over: Triplett, with a 3-over par performance for the weekend, advanced on the individual side. With the other Wildcat golfers there cheering him on, the senior finished tied for 50th after shooting a 79.
On the team side, Oklahoma State is the fourth leader in four days, up by eight strokes over Duke. The champion will be determined on Wednesday.