Oct. 23, 2004
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's 39th-ranked men's golf team will play in its final event of the fall season Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 25-26, at the Inaugural Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge. The 54-hole tournament is being hosted by the University of Oregon at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore. Seven teams from both the Big Ten and Pac-10 will compete in the tournament.
"The Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge will be the most unique college golf tournament in the country," NU Head Coach Pat Goss said. "The format pitting the two conferences with their traditional rivalry as well as the facility will make for a great week. There is no better place to play golf than Bandon Dunes."
The field boasts defending NCAA champion California, 2002 NCAA champion Minnesota and 2004 Pac-10 champion Arizona. Also playing will be 2003 NCAA medalist Alejandro Canizares of Arizona State, as well as 2004 Pac-10 individual champion Henry Liaw of Arizona.
Seven of the 14 squads are ranked in the top 30 in the most recent Golfweek rankings. Representing the Pac-10 will be Arizona, No. 18 Arizona State, California, No. 30 Oregon, No. 19 UCLA, No. 9 USC and No. 27 Washington. The Big Ten will be represented by Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, No. 20 Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State and No. 21 Purdue.
"The Challenge is a great opportunity for our team to test itself against the best teams in the county and an opportunity for the Big Ten conference to continually prove we are a national force in college golf," Goss said.
Teams will play 36 holes Monday and 18 Tuesday on the par-72, 6,980-yard Bandon Dunes course. Pairings will be determined by a blind draw Saturday night, and the groups of three will consist of either two Pac-10 teams and one Big Ten, or two from the Big Ten and one Pac-10. There will be an 8 a.m. (10 CDT) start on both Monday and Tuesday.
In addition to the normal tournament scoring, in which teams play five golfers and count the low four scores, the conference challenge winner will be determined by counting a league's best six team scores from each round.
Northwestern is paced by senior Dillon Dougherty. In Dougherty's last outing, he took home a share of the individual title at the Third Annual Alister MacKenzie Invitational and led the Wildcats to a fourth place finish. He closed with a final-round-best 4-under 67 to capture his first career title in impressive fashion. Dougherty had finished sixth at the Windon Memorial Classic the week before, a tournament which NU won.
"Dillon has begun to show the type of player he is in the last two events," Goss said. "He got off to a slow start but is really playing well now. I was happy for him to get his first college win back home in Northern California in front of his family and friends that he grew up playing junior golf with. Dillon is a great leader for our younger players in his commitment, work ethic and approach to the game."
Sophomore David Merkow finished third at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, just three strokes back of Dougherty. It was Merkow's second straight top-10 finish this year. He is second on the team with a stroke average of 73.67 and has placed in the top 20 in three of four starts.
The 'Cats lineup for the Challenge also includes junior Bryson Young, sophomore Chris Wilson and freshman Dan Doyle.
The Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge was the idea of KemperSports Management of Northbrook, Ill., Goss and Oregon coach Steve Nosler. KemperSports manages the Bandon property and owns the Glen Club, in Glenview, Ill., which is where the 2005 Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge will be played. NU will be the host in 2005.
"College golf is very fortunate to have the support of KemperSports and Bandon Dunes to showcase our sport," Goss said.
The event will return to Bandon in 2006, but will be played on the Pacific Dunes course. In 2007, the event will also be at Bandon and is tentatively scheduled to be contested on the under-construction Pacific Trail course. The tournament will return to the Glen Club in 2008.