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PALM BEACH, Florida – Brookline native James Imai, a first-year student at Northwestern University, started the spring portion of the college season off in style as he went 4-0 in match play to lead the Northwestern men’s golf team to first place at the Big Ten Match Play Championships on Friday and Saturday.
In his final match, Imai rallied from an early 2-down deficit to defeat Penn State’s Jimmy Meyers, 2-1, but the teams were tied at 3-3 after 18 holes. Northwestern went on to win the tiebreaker against Penn State, giving the program its conference-best fifth title in the history of the event.
ONLINE: Match Summary
“We’ve put in a lot of good work this offseason and came into the event wanting the win,” said Imai, a three-time Mass Golf Junior Amateur champion and three-time Mass Golf Junior Player of the Year.
Imai completely dominated in two of his matches. He started Friday by defeating Peyton Snoeberger of second-seeded Purdue, 5 and 4. After leading the entire way in a 2 and 1 victory over Iowa’s Jake Rowe in Friday afternoon’s match, he started Saturday with a 6 and 5 win over Nebraska’s Daniel Pearson.
“I felt good about my game and did everything I could to get points for us,” said Imai, also a longtime student at KOHR Academy in Natick. “Hopefully, this is the start of something special.”
In the fall, Imai made his college debut in September at the Windon Memorial Classic. He placed in the top-25 with a 3-over 216 score, and he shot a 1-under at the Marquette Invitational in October.
Senior Everton Hawkins, also went 4-0 in match play for Northwestern.
The event will air on Big Ten Network on March 1.
In the meantime, Northwestern will compete in The Prestige at PGA West on Feb. 17-19 in Palm Springs, California.