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    Wildcats Shoot for Back-to-Back Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge Titles in Oregon

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM David Merkow won the 2005 Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    David Merkow won the 2005 Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Oct. 22, 2006

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's men's golf team travels to Oregon this Monday to begin its quest for back-to-back Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge championships in Bandon, Ore.

    Just over a year ago, the 'Cats hosted the 2005 edition of the Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge at the Glen Club in Glenview. Led by David Merkow (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead Union), Northwestern rallied to claim the team title as Merkow took home medalist honors.

    Merkow is a vital cog in the Wildcat lineup again this year, as the senior has a 74.44 stroke average for the fall.

    Through three events, freshman Jonathan Bowers (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson) leads the 'Cats with a 73.78 stroke average and has finished no worse than 19th in an event this fall.

    This year's Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge will be played on Pacific Dunes, a 6,633-yard, par-71 layout.

    Besides the normal team and individual competitions, the Challenge has a unique competition between the two conferences where the six lowest individual scores in a round for each conference count toward a conference score. The series is currently even at 1-1.

    Five other Big Ten teams -- Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois -- join the Wildcats in this year's challenge between the two major conferences.

    The Pac-10 teams feature USC, currently ranked No. 1 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin poll, as well as No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 UCLA, No. 28 Washington and the two local schools -- Oregon and Oregon State.

    The field will play 36 holes on Monday before playing the final round of the 54-hole event on Tuesday.