by Andrew Forhan
The Whitworth men’s golf teams finished in a tie for second place at the Lutes Invitational at the Home Course in Dupont, Wash., last weekend, despite being limited to practice in the Fieldhouse for much of the schedule gap between fall and spring seasons.
Whitworth, ranked No. 23 nationally in the most recent GCAA Division III men’s golf poll, was led by freshman Austin Billleter who shot a 75, 72 two-day total that was good for a second place individual finish.
“I didn’t have the greatest fall season — I’ve been playing well in the spring and it was nice to come out in a tournament — especially today I had quite a few birdies and just played well and played loose,” Billleter said.
Junior Jesse Salzwedel, the top Pirate finisher at the NWC Fall Classic last semester, recognized the potential of Billeter’s game.
“I think he surprised a lot of people with the talent that he has,” Salzwedel said. “He’s able to compete with anyone in our conference; I think it showed his true demeanor and true confidence in the way he was able to post a score.”
The Pirates were split into two teams; Whitworth and Whitworth B. The Whitworth team was composed of the top-five finishers from the fall season, while Whitworth B was composed five other Pirate golfers.
Both teams shot two-day totals 617, which qualified for second place behind the host school, PLU, with a team total of 600.
“In a way [the team tie] was surprising, but in a way it wasn’t because I know all the guys on our team have potential,” freshman Lyle Rudnicki said. “It’s just about who can bring that potential forth in that weekend.”
Freshman Oliver Rudnicki and Salzwedel finished with two-day totals at eight over par and tied for fourth overall. Salzwedel had the overall tournament lead after posting a 72 on the first day of action.
“Saturday was good, not being able to play much this winter I didn’t feel as prepared as I would have liked but I went out there and took it one stroke at a time,” Salzwedel said. “I don’t think the fact that I had the lead after one day was what got to me, I just failed to execute.”
The Whitworth B squad, led by Billeter’s performance, was also highlighted by senior Christian Boudreau’s 78, 75 two-day total that placed him sixth overall, and freshman Tyler McQuilkin with a 78, 79 that tied him with Lyle Rudnicki for 13th overall.
The other Whitworth team was led by Oliver Rudnicki and Salzwedel who both posted two-day totals of 152.
“What I saw most difficult about this weekend was chipping, and putting, and short game around the greens because there has been so much snow around we haven’t been able to practice on the course,” Lyle Rudnicki said. “Considering all that, I think our team did really well this weekend, and even though we came in second, I’m not worried at all going forward for the rest of the season.”
Weather permitting, the Pirates now look forward to practicing on the course as they prepare for the Lewis-Clark Invitation on March 11-12.
Contact Andrew Forhan at firstname.lastname@example.org