Feb. 25, 2014
Puerto Rico Classic
Rio Mar Country Club Rio Grande, P.R.
RIO GRANDE, P.R. -- Led by senior Jack Perry's (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara) career-best 9-under 63 Tuesday at the Rio Mar Country Club, Northwestern jumped up in the standings in the final round of the Puerto Rico Classic.
Northwestern carded its best score of the tournament by 10 strokes with a final round 6-under 282, pushing NU up to 13th place among the 15-team field at 11-over 875 (292-301-282). The 33rd ranked Wildcats finished ahead of No. 43 North Carolina and N.C. State. Ten teams ranked in the current top 50 of the Golfstat.com rankings competed in the field, including five of the top 10.
"Disappointing (result) but a good field," tweeted head coach Pat Goss after the final round. "Lots of good and lots of improvement needed."
Perry's 9-under 63 ties Josh Habig's 63 at the 2000 NCAA Central Regional for the second-lowest round in program history. Only Jess Daley's 62 at the Compaq US Collegiate has been better in NU annals. Perry's previous career-low score was a 66 achieved several times over his Northwestern career.
One of Goss' stated goals before Tuesday's final round was to make 20 birdies, and Perry took care of nine of them all by himself. The All-American put on an iron play master class with all nine of his birdie putts coming from inside 10 feet.
Teeing off at No. 16 in the shotgun start, he shot out of a cannon with birdies on four of his first five holes. Perry continued with 10-footers for birdie at Nos. 6 and 7 before another birdie at No. 9 put him at 7-under par with six holes to play. He missed his first shot of the round when a 7-iron approach found the left bunker at 10, but he made a nice sand save to remain bogey free.
An eight-foot birdie putt at No. 13 and a tap-in following a beautiful 50-yard wedge at the reachable par-5 15th concluded Perry's record-setting day. After entering the round in 46th place in the field, Perry jumped all the way up to 15th at 5-under 211 (73-75-63) to record his fifth top-20 finish in six team stroke play tournaments this year.
Sophomore Andrew Whalen (Ephrata, Wash./Ephrata Senior) continued the strong play he had been exhibiting all tournament long, carding his tournament-best score in the final round with a 3-under 69 to finish 22nd overall at 3-under 213 (71-73-69). Whalen was 1-over par Tuesday with five holes to play before a torrid finish in which he made four birdies in the final five holes.
All three of the other Wildcats in the Northwestern lineup fired 3-over 75s Tuesday. Junior Matthew Negri (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont) made bogey on his first two holes of the final round before leaking just one more stroke the rest of the way for a 64th-place 10-over 226 (73-78-75).
Two double bogeys in his first nine holes saw junior Bennett Lavin (Deerfield, Ill./Deerfield) at 6-over through eight holes, but he came roaring back with four birdies down the stretch to aid in his best total of the tourney. He finished 67th with an 11-over 227 (76-76-75).
"I will give Lavin due credit," tweeted Goss. "No matter how much he's struggling he never quits. Always hangs in there and gets the most out of rounds."
Sophomore Josh Jamieson (St. Andrews, Scotland/High School of Dundee) was 5-over par midway through his 18 holes Tuesday but played his final eight in 2-under par to complete the tournament even with Lavin in 67th place at 11-over 227 (75-77-75).
Northwestern returns to action over Spring Break March 28-30 at the US Intercollegiate hosted by Stanford.
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