Northwestern coach’s loyalty with former player

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Longtime Northwestern men’s golf coach Pat Goss grew up in the area, and he lives in Evanston with his family.

But Goss, one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers in America,” doesn’t mask his rooting interest this weekend in the Ryder Cup.

“I don’t find my loyalty tough this week. It’s pretty simple: I only have one person I cheer for in this whole event and that’s Luke Donald,” Goss said. “That’s where my interest lay. I know what this event means to him and his career for the European team, so my heart is in making sure Luke Donald plays his best golf.”

One of the world’s top players, Luke Donald was a four-time All-American at Northwestern. But Donald is a native of England, and he’s a key member of the European team that’s dominated the U.S. at the Ryder Cup in recent memory. And while some top players from Europe do establish roots in the United States, Donald has maintained a strong presence in the Chicago area, in part, because of Goss.

“As soon as I met him and got to know him, I had a great ease with him,” Donald told me. “I felt what he was teaching me were the right things. I just feel very comfortable around him.

“I think he’s one of the best short-game teachers in the world, and he’s certainly helped my game because of that.”

Goss, though, feels fortunate to watch Donald grow up before his eyes.“Personally, to see him go from this college kid, to turning into a professional to marrying his college sweetheart to being a father has been rewarding as well,” Goss said. “Obviously, the golf has been a great experience for me.”Goss insisted he’s learned plenty being around Donald, getting a chance to watch his development as well as the routine of some of the other great golfers in the world.Goss works closely with Donald, who still maintains a residence in the Chicago area, but he’s just as committed to his Wildcats. He is, after all, an alum.“It does help in recruiting,” Goss said of his relationship with Donald. “We’re trying to recruit kids who are trying to be professional golfers and there’s pretty good evidence there that we understand what it takes.”Goss has worked with Donald every day leading up to Friday’s opening round, then he’ll shift his attention to the Wildcats, who have a tournament starting Sunday at Olympia Fields.

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