by Henry Miller | Staff Writer
Whitworth Golf took a leap in the Northwest Conference rankings this week after coming away victorious at the 2018 fall classic in McMinville, Ore. The Bucs finished four shots ahead of rival Willamette, taking down the dominant force in NWC Men’s golf. Whitworth’s final score tallied and even 600 strokes where Willamette tallied 604.
“Both Willamette and PLU are very strong opponents, despite their youth, and so it was assuring that we could pull off a win against them,” said Jack Ryan O’Neil, 20’.
The Whitworth Men had taken first in their first tournament of the year, The PLU invitational in Dupont, but since then had finished in a tie for second and a tie for third in their following two tournaments. They were not building the momentum they wished to.
“Going into this week we had the confidence we could win but not as much as we felt after that first win so this tournament performance was a big confidence boost for the program,” said O’Neil.
The Bucs brought a team that consisted of O’Neil, along with Tristan Hartfiel, 20’, Caleb Belton, 21’, Keegan Loo, 20’, and Derrick Phelps, 19’. Derrick Phelps lead the team shooting a combined 145 after both days and taking second individually in the tournament. Hartfiel, Belton, and O’Neil all tied for 12th , shooting a combined 153 for the tournaments.
“Our team is very deep this year which is great in that it is a very competitive environment with each of us trying to beat each other out in practice to figure out the five guys that will be competing in that tournament,” said O’Neil.
The 2018 Fall Classic was dominated by the Bucs. After day one they held a three-shot lead and finished the tournament with a four shot lead.
“We had a lot of open shots to the greens. I think we led the field in # of pars by a lot and were close to the top in number of birdies which was due to having open shots to the green and was obviously the key to scoring well,” said O’Neil.
The NWC Fall Classic counts as 25% of the NWC championship standings. Whitworth is in first place after this weekend’s tournament with eight points followed by Willamette with seven and PLU with six. The NWC Spring classic will cover another 25% and the NWC tournament towards the end of April 2019 will count as 50%. The Bucs finish up the fall leg of their season at the Whitman invitational in Walla Walla.