by Corina Gebbers
The Whitworth men’s golf team fought for a third- place finish on April 1 at the Northwest Conference Spring Classic held at the Wildhorse Resort Golf Course in Pendleton, Ore. The Bucs placed one stroke behind Whitman College, with a total team score of 616, finishing third overall.
“Today we lost by one stroke,” sophomore Stephen Plopper said. “But we still have high hopes because if we win our next tournament we have a chance of going to nationals, which is an ultimate goal.”
The Spring Classic counts as one-fourth of a team’s points toward the final league standings. With a third- place finish, the Bucs are well on their way to earning the top spot in the NWC and a bid to postseason action.
Sophomore Jesse Salzwedel medaled with a first- place combined score of 143, while Plopper finished third individually with a combined score of 148 to place the Pirates within one stroke of second place.
“I played to my ability and Stephen showed what he was capable of,” Salzwedel said. “He has a whole lot of talent so I’m excited to see what he and I can do together in the coming tournaments and next year as well.”
On Saturday, Plopper led the field with a score of 69, the only score in the sixties from any player.
“I was focusing on hitting fairways and the green,” Plopper said. “It was probably the best tournament I’ve had collegiately.”
Salzwedel landed third on the leaderboard after round one, just two strokes behind Plopper. Junior Christian Boudreau shot an 81 and tied for 26th place, sophomore Joey Degroff tied for 32nd place with a score of 82 and sophomore Saul Martinez tied for 36th place with a score of 83. At the end of day one, Whitworth stood in third place behind Pacific Lutheran University and Whitman.
“You always feel you could do a little better,” said head coach Warren Friedrichs. “I think all the teams felt that way.”
Even with windy conditions on Sunday, the Pirates pulled together as a team to land third overall against all the NWC teams.
“We were very cohesive as a team,” Plopper said. “We expect to play well and dominate in the conference, but we haven’t been able to put two days together and win a tournament.”
In round two, Salzwedel shot a 72 to earn the top spot on the leaderboard, Plopper finished with a score of 79, Degroff tied for 22nd overall with a score of 80, Martinez shot an 82 and tied for 33rd, while Boudreau finished in 37th place with a second round score of 86.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Salzwedel said. “And instead of saying that as an overwhelming statement, we can look at it as a chance to grow as a team and become better golfers.
Next up, the Pirates will head to Kennewick, Wash. to compete in the NWC preview held at the Canyon Lakes Golf Course on April 14.
“We have to play with a few more scores in the seventies to win the league.” Friedrichs said. “Hopefully our best tournament will be the NWC Championship Tournament.”
The NWC Championship will be held April 21 and 22 at the Canyon Lakes Golf Course.
Contact Corina Gebbers at firstname.lastname@example.org.