Northwestern is looking to build on a promising, if inconsistent, 2015-16 season, which ended with seventh-place finish in an NCAA Regional tournament, two spots short of qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
The team’s biggest star is junior Dylan Wu, who led the Wildcats in scoring average, top-10 and top-20 finishes. His two third-place finishes were the best of any NU golfer last year.
Wu and junior Sam Triplett are the only returning upperclassmen on the team, as the only other Cats to play in all 11 tournaments last year, Josh Jamieson and Andrew Whalen, both graduated in 2016.
This leaves coach David Inglis with a wide open roster coming into the year, as five golfers compete for the team in each tournament, and while Wu is almost certain to compete in each tournament, the other four spots will likely be wide open.
Along with Triplett, sophomores Ryan Lumsden, Luke Miller and Pete Griffith will compete with graduate transfer Conor Richardson and the incoming freshman class for playing time.
Of the trio of sophomores, Lumsden turned in the most impressive performance last year, finishing tied for seventh at the Puerto Rico Classic and also finishing second on the team in scoring average on the year.
Miller and Griffith will need to show improvement if they hope to lock down consistent starting spots this year. Miller played in six tournaments last year, and his best finish was tied for 40th, while Griffith participated in five, with his best finish at 24th place.
NU’s seventh-place regionals finish last year was largely due to a terrible second round where the Cats shot the 13th-best round in the 14 team field, essentially ending their chance at NCAAs qualification.
Although NU’s regionals qualification in 2015-16 marked a major improvement after the team failed to qualify in 2014-15, the team is still searching for its first NCAAs qualification since the 2010-11 season and the first such berth under Inglis.
With a year of experience under their belts, this may just be the year for the young Cats.