Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
Fathers aren't the only ones who know best. Mothers are pretty sharp, too.
Dylan Wu found that out as he pursued his dream of playing high level college golf. The St. Mary's junior had been mulling over top schools since last summer and had visited his four leading choices when his mother, Julie, intervened.
She urged him to take a look at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and he's glad she did.
On Tuesday night, Wu, 16, accepted a scholarship offer from Wildcats coach Pat Goss, ending a detailed process in which no aspect was overlooked.
"It was one of the schools I didn't even think I'd visit," said Dylan, who enjoyed one of the finest seasons among schoolboy golfers in Oregon last spring and who hit the national junior circuit hard in the past year. "It was always a school I was thinking about but not one of my top choices."
But when his mother offered to turn over money she'd set aside to accompany him to a tournament in Texas so he could fund a visit to Northwestern, he was compelled to do so.
"She's wanted me to commit for a long time," said Dylan. "I'm actually glad I took the time I did for this process. I have no regrets. A lot of kids I know knew where they were going at 15, 14. I wanted to make sure about my school. Northwestern is a perfect choice. I went through it detail by detail, and I'm pretty happy with where I stand right now."
Wu made a verbal commitment to Goss. The letter-of-intent signing period begins Nov. 13.
Wu previously visited Stanford, Cal, Pepperdine and Washington. All of the Pac-12 schools had expressed interest, he said, as well as others from around the country, notably Harvard and Michigan.
Ultimately, it came down to Northwestern and Stanford.
Wu visited Northwestern Jan. 23-24. He stayed with players, visited expansive and modern training facilities the team has at its disposal, ate his first deep-dish pizza and walked on Lake Michigan.
But it was his connection with Goss and the coach's glossy credentials that won over Wu.
Goss is in his 17th year and was the 2012 Illinois golf teacher of the year. His prized student over the years has been Luke Donald, who ascended to the world's No. 1 ranking before dropping back to No. 4.
Goss continues to serve as the coach of Donald, who was college golf's player of the year in 1999 and a four-time All-American.
"Coach Goss was probably the thing that separated them from all the schools," said Wu. "He's probably the best coach I've met on all the visits. He's a coach who truly wanted me as a player and who would base his success on how much better of a player I'd become when I got to Northwestern. He said his only goal would be to make me a better golfer. Most coaches inferred that, but he was the first one to say it."
The players Wu met were "really good people and kids I'd love to be teammates with," he said.
The biggest drawback would be the frigid winter weather, but the Wildcats travel to all corners of the U.S. at all times of the year to play, said Wu, including spending two weeks in Florida over Christmas.
Northwestern is ranked 35th by GolfWeek and is among the top teams in the Big Ten.
There is only one senior on this year's roster and two juniors. The other five players are sophomores and freshmen.
Goss recruited one of the top amateurs in the world, England's Matthew Fitzpatrick, from the Class of 2013.
Last season, Wu led St. Mary's to its second straight Class 3A/2A/1A state championship. He was the individual co-leader after Day 1 but was overtaken by Rogue River's Kevin Murphy in the second round and settled for second place.
Wu twice reached his competitive low score of 66 last spring, including on the final day of the district tournament to win that championship over Murphy.
He was over par for only three rounds all season — twice by one shot and the other by two.
In junior golf, he's played 11 national and international tournaments in the past year, including the U.S. Junior Amateur, the Callaway Junior Worlds and the Rolex Tournament of Champions.
His motivation for the aggressive schedule was to set himself up with collegiate options. Mission accomplished.
"Now that I've achieved my goal, I can concentrate on amateur events," said Wu, who will play a mix of junior tournaments and amateur events against older players. "I want to have a little more experience with players who are better than me. It'll help me prepare my game. I'll keep working on my game, working on my skills and keep getting better and better, so when I go to Northwestern, I can hopefully help bring them a championship."
Among the events on his schedule is the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club, April 26-28, near Augusta, Ga., home of this week's Masters.
The tournament is rated the No. 1 junior golf event in the world by GolfWeek and brings together 54 of the world's top players. Jack Nicklaus will be the keynote speaker.
With his college choice out of the way, Wu allowed he can focus more on golf.
"It's a relief," he said. "It takes a little pressure off. I can just play golf and have fun."
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