Of all 19 varsity sports teams at Northwestern, the women’s golf team may have suffered the most heartbreaking end to a season of any squad on campus last year.
Needing to finish in the top-8 after the fourth round of stroke play at the NCAA Championship in order to qualify for the team match play round of competition, the Wildcats came up a single stroke short of qualification, taking 1,167 strokes over the four days to Oregon’s 1,166 and heading home needing just more than what they turned in, the best season in school history.
Amid the heartbreak is one positive sign for this coming year — the entire starting lineup from last year’s team is back.
Junior and back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year Hannah Kim is back to wreak havoc on golf courses throughout the nation. In 2016, Kim set NU records for lowest single round score, lowest 54-hole score and lowest single-season stroke average. She currently holds the Cats’ record for career stroke average through her two seasons as well.
The second best single-season scoring average in NU history belongs to sophomore Stephanie Lau after she turned in nine top-20 finishes in 11 events her freshman year. She also holed the most important putt of the season for the Cats to ensure a split of the Big Ten Championship with Ohio State for the second straight year.
The third best single-season scoring average in NU history belongs to senior Kacie Komoto, who earned that mark last year and led the team in top-10 finishes last year with six.
The other two returning members of the starting lineup, junior Sarah Cho and sophomore Janet Mao, may not have a top-3 scoring average mark in school history, but they also each won individual titles last year, as Cho won the Dick Mcguire Invitational to kick off the season, while Mao tied for the individual title as the team claimed its NCAA Regional title to secure a place in the NCAAs.
The Cats are led by reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year, Emily Fletcher, who guided the team to four tournament wins last season, but is still looking to qualify for the elusive top-8 match play bracket at the NCAAs.
Simply put, this team was great last year, and it’s back for more.