Northwestern women's golf team is headed to its third consecutive NCAA Championships after securing a berth in the NCAA Regionals at Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 9.
The 'Cats finished second in the field thanks to a 3-over 291, the best final round of any team in the competition.
"I'm so proud of our team," said head coach Emily Fletcher. "We didn't play the way that we wanted during the first round, we were making a lot of pars but not many birdies, but we knew if we kept playing our game we'd have success. The biggest strength of our group is the depth that we've been able to build."
The Wildcats placed four golfers in the top 22 and were the only team (of 18) with all five participants finishing among the top 35. Northwestern was led during the final round by a senior and a freshman, with veteran Hana Lee turning in a 1-under 71 on her way to a ninth-place finish overall (+2), and Big Ten Player & Freshman of the Year Hannah Kim carding an identical 71 for her best round of the tournament.
"We all push each other to be great on the course, but we all do a good job of keeping one another relaxed away from the course as well," said Lee. "We weren't happy with our first day of competition but knew that if we avoided some of the unforced errors from Thursday we would be OK on Friday and Saturday. I'd love to see a national championship for this program before I graduate, we just need to focus on ourselves."
Sophomore Kacie Komoto parred her final eight holes of the day to sign a 2-over 74 on Saturday and tied for 18th at 7-over-par for the tournament. Junior Suchaya Tangkamolprasert shared the team lead with four birdies in the final round to tie her teammate at +7 over three days. Freshman Sarah Cho finished round three at 4-over-par to finish tied for 35th in her NCAA debut.
The 'Cats played perhaps the most consistent golf of any team in the field at Raleigh, leading the tournament with 188 pars over three days. The 2015 Big Ten Champions were paced in the category by Cho (42) and Komoto (41), who ranked second and third, respectively, among the 96 players in competition.
"There wasn't any point in the tournament where we felt that we could play conservatively," said Fletcher. "Even coming down the stretch on Saturday it seemed like we were battling for fifth or sixth, but then we were able to card four birdies over the final two holes while other teams slipped back on what was a really difficult series of holes on the back-nine."
Northwestern's second place finish at the 2015 Raleigh Regional is the best result in program history, equaling the runner-up result in their first-ever Regionals appearance in 2000.
The 2015 NCAA Championships will be Northwestern's third consecutive appearance in college golf's premier event under Fletcher and assistant Beth Miller. The event will be hosted at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, from May 22 to 27.
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