Luke Donald was a three-time All-American and an NCAA champion for Northwestern before he went on to his brilliant career as a professional, which included his earning the status of the world’s No. 1 golfer.
One of Donald’s most cherished collegiate records went by the wayside on Tuesday when NU junior Jack Perry posted a 54-hole score of 200 in the two-day NU Spring Invitational at The Glen Club in Glenview.
Perry made 20 birdies and posted rounds of 67, 67 and 66 in winning the individual title by eight strokes over Boo Timko of Ohio State. Perry’s 16-under-par score bettered the NU record for a 54-hole tournament set by Donald at the 2001 U.S. Intercollegiates in Mexico and later tied by David Lipsky in a 2002 event in Greensboro, N.C.
NU coach Pat Goss didn’t want to tell Perry how close he was to the record while play was in progress.
“But I was cheering hard for him,’’ said Goss. “He played flawless all week. He’s been on the cusp of greatness.’’
“I had no idea I was aiming for that accolade (Donald’s record),’’ said Perry. “But obviously it’s a good perk for playing well. I thought the record would be about 185, given the type of player (Donald) is.’’
Goss’ Wildcats won the 14-team event by 12 shots over second place Ohio State, and his only disappointment was that Perry’s 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole didn’t drop. He needed it to shoot 199 – a milestone score at the collegiate level, where most tournaments are over 54 holes.
“One of my goals as a coach is to have a player shoot 199,’’ said Goss. “It seems like such a neat number.’’
“That would have been pretty cool,’’ admitted Perry, “but it was still a good two days. We practice here a lot in these weather conditions, so we were well prepared.’’
Much of that practice was done at the Luke Donald Outdoor Practice Facility, which Donald had built at The Glen Club strictly for use by the men’s and women’s teams at NU.
The two-day tournament was the first significant competition of the Chicago season and good preparation for the Wildcats, who will bid for the Big Ten Championships at French Lick, Ind., in two weeks.