by Max Carter
Whitworth golf hopped onto I-90 this weekend for their first tournament of 2016, heading to the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Complex for the Pacific Lutheran University Logger Invitational. Both the men and women finished in fourth place in the rainy conditions of Bremerton, Washington.
Senior Oliver Rudnicki led the Whitworth men with a two-day performance of 72-73 (+1), while senior Michal Shuster paced the women with a score of 76-80 (+12). Rudnicki finished in eighth place individually, while Schuster placed fifth.
With a strong core of seniors led by twin brothers Oliver and Lyle Rudnicki, head golf coach Warren Friedrichs and the Whitworth men are looking to build on their second place finish at the NWC Championship last spring. According to Friedrichs, putting and short game are the areas in which the Pirates need to make some improvements.
Seniors Austin Billeter, Andrew Dodge and Ryan Hodl all finished in the top-15. Billeter fired a two-day total of 148 for a T-11th finish and Dodge was right behind him, shooting 76-74 to finish tied for 13th. Hodl opened the tournament with a strong round of 73 on Saturday before the skies opened up, carding a 79 on Sunday for a T-15th finish.
With a talented and proven team of experienced players, the Pirates are in a position to have a nice spring in 2016. Much of their success will hinge on the play of Lyle Rudnicki, who has been searching for the form that earned him second-team all-NWC honors in 2013. Of the regular starters for coach Friedrichs, junior Jamie Carroll is the only athlete that will be returning next season.
It will be interesting to see what coach Friedrichs has planned for next year, when he will be losing six of his eight golfers to graduation, but for now the Pirates are focused on playing well and building on the past successes of their experienced roster.
Friedrichs and his team will have some time to tighten up the screws, getting the next three weeks off from tournament play before heading to La Verne, California for The West Cup on March 28 and 29. The Whitworth women will play next in Pacific Grove, California at the UCSC Invitational on March 19 and 20.