NCAA Cut Line Barely Escapes NU

By Liana B. Baker Daily Northwestern

May 22, 2007

Evanston, IL (CSTV U-WIRE) -- SUGAR GROVE, Ill. - Northwestern missed the top 10, the cut for the NCAA Championships, by two strokes Saturday at the NCAA Central Regional Championship, bringing an end to its season. Â

"It hurts," junior Kyle Moore said after finishing the 18th hole at the Rich Harvest Farms golf course.

Moore's play was NU's brightest spot in the tournament. After a streaky first round, he shot up the leader board with a 4-under 68 Friday, one of the lowest scores of the day. Under the pressure of being the last NU golfer to finish, he fired a 3-over 75 in the final round to end in 17th place, the best of any NU golfer.

The Wildcats, the No. 13 seed, placed 13th with a 56-over 920. Two Big Ten teams that made the cut, Michigan State and Minnesota, finished ahead of NU.

The Cats made too many "unforced errors," on Saturday, coach Pat Goss said. The par-3 seventh hole, called "Valley of Sin," gave NU trouble Saturday.

Moore and freshman Jon Bowers both doubled-bogeyed it, and senior David Merkow and junior Dan Doyle bogeyed the hole, which features a three-tier green and high prairie grasses. Senior Chris Wilson escaped unscathed, but Goss said his triple bogey on the 11th hole was one of NU's key mistakes.

"We needed to make bogey and get out of there," Goss said.

In the final holes Saturday, Moore kept his cool knowing his team's chances of competing in the NCAA championship could rest on his shoulders, as he was the team's final golfer.

On the 16th hole, Moore took off his hat and hit himself several times with it, unhappy about a shot that ended up in the rough, close to a hazard. His dismay at the shot proved to be unfounded, as he saved for birdie.

"I felt a lot of pressure to make birdies on the final holes, but I played them well and made my best effort," Moore said.
 

 

Down the stretch, Goss told Moore and Wilson the only way their team could tie for a playoff was if was if they both birdied the final holes.I thought that as players, they would want to know and be aware of the situation," Goss said.

Emotions ran high on the 18th green after each NU player sunk their last putt to applause. Seniors Merkow and Wilson hugged their families and friends, visibly dejected they could not play in the NCAA championship in their senior year.

"I still feel emotional about it," Goss said right after the final around. "We put in so much time and effort together. Shoot, there's times of the year I spend more time with them than I do with my own family."

Despite his disappointment, Goss is already looking ahead to next year. He said promising recruits are coming in who will add to the mix of the three players on the team who already have a lot of experience.

The hour-and-a-half drive back to NU from the course was no doubt a hard one, but the team won't have much time to ruminate. Moore, Wilson and Merkow will all compete in the U.S. Open Sectionals in the first week of June. Still, a premature end to any season is never any easy one.

"They're great guys," Goss said. "They cared enough to not want it to end."

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