Sept. 12, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- As the PGA TOUR's FedEx Cup playoffs continue this weekend in Lake Forest, Ill., at Northwestern alumnus Luke Donald's home course of Conway Farms, the Wildcats men's golfers will get their 2013-14 season underway this Friday through Sunday, Sept. 13-15, at the Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill.
Sixteen teams comprise the field at what is one of college golf's most challenging events each season. The Wildcats will take on defending national champion Alabama and 2013 runner-up Illinois as well as National Championships qualifiers Arkansas, Florida State, Florida, Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Indiana, Stanford, Baylor, Augusta State, Clemson and SMU round out the field.
The Olympia Fields North Course will play to a 7,142-yard, par-70 layout for the tournament with 18 holes on each of the event's three days. Tee times Friday and Saturday begin at 9 a.m. CT while Sunday's final round gets underway at 8 a.m. CT. Live results will be available at Golfstat.com.
Northwestern entered the final round of last year's OFCC/Fighting Illini tournament in third place before ending up sixth overall. Then-senior Nick Losole led the Wildcats with a runner-up performance.
With Losole now graduated, senior All-American Jack Perry (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara) is the leader of the NU squad. He won the Les Bolstad Award in 2012-13 for having the lowest regular-season stroke average among all Big Ten student-athletes and racked up a pair of victories a year ago.
Perry was one of three Wildcats named to the Big Ten Golfers to Watch list released earlier this month, joining sophomore Andrew Whalen (Ephrata, Wash./Ephrata) and freshman Matt Fitzpatrick (Sheffield, England./Tapton). Whalen hopes for a strong debut this season after nearly winning his debut tournament a year ago when he ended up one stroke off the pace at the Inverness Intercollegiate.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, is perhaps the most heralded recruit in the history of Northwestern athletics -- in any sport. He arrived in Evanston this week as the No. 1 ranked amateur player in the world after a summer that saw him finish as the low amateur at The Open Championship, as runner-up at the English Men's Amateur and then as champion at the United States Amateur. He competed Sept. 7-8 for the GB&I team in the biannual Walker Cup matches, going 3-1 for the European side.
Another European golfer -- St. Andrew's, Scotland, native Josh Jamieson -- played his way into the team lineup at the end of his freshman campaign, competing in all of Northwestern's regular season spring tournaments and finishing a career-best fifth at the NU Spring Invitational.
Junior Matthew Negri (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont) returns after finishing with NU's third-best stroke average of 2012-13. He recorded seven rounds at par or better last year and racked up a pair of top-20 finishes. Classmate Bennett Lavin (Deerfield, Ill./Deerfield) also had two top-20s last season while competing in all but one of Northwestern's tournaments.
Rounding out the Wildcats' returners are senior John Callahan (Hinsdale, Ill./Benet Academy) and redshirt sophomore Scott Smith (Pepper Pike, Ohio/University School). Callahan will be the defending champion in a week when Northwestern hosts its 17th Windon Memorial Classic after making a 25-foot birdie putt on his final hole for his first-collegiate win in 2012. Smith played in five events in 2012-13, including twice as a member of the team lineup. He closed his first competitive season with a 3-under 69 in the final round at the Northwestern Spring Invitational.
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