by Connor Soudani
Whitworth golf made a strong drive onto the NWC golf scene last weekend with first place finishes from both the men’s and women’s teams.
The Pirate women found themselves ahead of their PLU hosts by 11 shots with a team score of 318 following the first day of competition. Junior Chelsea Bayley held on to first place in the individual player standings after hitting a two over par score of 74. Sophomore Michal Schuster was close behind with a score of 76 to finish second in the player standings after the first day. Senior Nicole Lomax was tied for seventh with 81 while freshman Katie Ochoa shot an 87 with junior Yvonne LaCoursiere rounding the day out for Whitworth with an 88.
In addition to the success of the women after the first day, the junior-heavy Whitworth men held their own to secure a 295 team score. Junior Oliver Rudnicki held on to the lead with a three under score of 69, while junior Tyler McQuilken landed in fifth with 74. Tied for sixth was junior Samson Martinez with 75, followed by junior Austin Billeter and junior Andrew Dodge with 77 each.
“First tournament of the year, just wanted to see how everyone was playing,” Head Coach Warren Friedrichs said. “We’ve got new people in the lineup on a more regular basis depending on what they’ve seen in the past.”
Friedrichs went on to say that there was no specific point total they were aiming for as teams after the first day.
“You never know how the course is playing, [especially] because we haven’t played here in a long time so I didn’t remember the course. It was pretty dry in the rough area so the ball runs out,” Friedrichs said.
The second day proved to be almost a mirror image of the first as far as scores went. Both teams held on to their leads and went on to win the tournament.
Bayley shot another 74 to retain first place in the player standings, while Schuster tied for second with two golfers from Lewis & Clark. The rest of the women’s team improved upon their scores from the previous day, highlighted by Lomax coming back to hit a 75. In addition, Ochoa dropped six strokes from her first outing to finish the second day with 82, while LaCoursiere dropped two strokes to finish with 86.
“I was three under through 11, and then on 12 I hit a good drive and I had the ball below my feet for the second shot into the par 5 and I ended up hooking it out of bounds,” Bayley said. “That was probably the most difficult shot I had all day.”
Despite her strong driving on the first day, Bayley turned to a different part of her game to secure her second 74.
“I definitely putted well today. I hit the ball well yesterday but I hit some putts today to keep the scores the same,” Bayley said.
Much like the women, the men’s team continued their sharp shooting on the second day with another team score under 300 as they secured the team victory. The Pirates edged out George Fox and Puget Sound despite low team scores from both squads on the second outing. Rudnicki clinched the individual player victory with a second 69, while Martinez came back to hit a 74 to end up tied for sixth. Billeter shot 76, McQuilken shot 80 and Dodge pulled out an 82 to give the Pirates a score of 299 for the second outing.
“For me, as opposed to the other tournaments these past two weeks, it was my putting. I was hitting quite a few putts that I haven’t really made in other tournaments,” Rudnicki said.
Rudnicki also said that there was a fair amount of planning for the approach to each hole.
“We talked about what kind of shots we wanted to hit off the tees on certain holes and not be too aggressive, but the course wasn’t a really difficult course,” Rudnicki said. “The fairways were pretty hard so there was plenty of holes you could Birdie, so you just kind of needed to get past the tough holes to give yourself an opportunity to score on the easiest holes.”
Both golf teams travel to Oregon this weekend to compete in the Pacific University Invite on Saturday and Sunday.