Bucs fall short of NWC Tournament championship by two strokes to Linfield
by Corina Gebbers
The Whitworth men’s golf team improved its Northwest Conference standing from fourth place to second place and competed for a shot at the National tournament during their two rounds at the NWC Championships on April 21 and 22 at the Canyon Lakes course in Kennewick, Wash.
“I know some of the guys were disappointed,” junior Joey Degroff said. “But being so close to the top and giving ourselves a chance was a good way to end the season.”
The Bucs sat in second place after Saturday afternoon’s round with a score of 298. Linfield College led the way with a score of 293 and Pacific University tied Willamette University with a score of 311. Whitman College shot 319, George Fox University shot 325 and Lewis & Clark College finished with a score of 376.
“We always try and shoot 300”, head coach Warren Friedrichs said. “This was the most important [tournament] and we played pretty well.”
Degroff placed the highest for Whitworth after round one, shooting one over par with a 73 and tying for fourth place.
“Joey had his best tournament ever,” Friedrichs said. “He ended up earning second team all-conference honors.”
He nailed his first eagle in college competition to help lift Whitworth out of its fourth place position in the league.
“I’ve been waiting for something to click and something finally did this weekend,” Degroff said.
Sophomores Jesse Salzwedel and Saul Martinez tied for seventh place with rounds of 74. Sophomore Stephen Plopper finished with a score of 77, putting him in 16th place after the first round. Junior Christian Boudreau wrapped up the day with a score of 81.
“We could’ve done better,” Degroff said. “But we set our goal to have four scores in the seventies each day and we did that.”
After beginning the second round with a shotgun start on Sunday, Whitworth shot a 301 and fell short to first place Linfield by two strokes. With the win, Linfield nabbed an automatic bid to Nationals in Florida next month.
“Of course our overall goal was to win the NWC Championship and go to Nationals,” Degroff said. “[But] we also had some other goals about growing as a team and on the course, and I know that we achieved that.”
Boudreau led the way with a score of 72, the lowest score in the second round. He finished tied for 11th overall. Martinez, who also made second team all-conference, tied for fourth overall with a second round score of 75, Degroff shot a 77 and also tied for 11th and Plopper scored a 78 on Sunday, landing in 17th place overall. Salzwedel, who earned first team all-conference honors, shot a 77 and finished ninth.
“We picked it up as far as closing the gap,” Friedrichs said. “[Linfield] beat us by three strokes, but we handled all the other teams, had a good tournament and played well as a team.”
In the final NWC team standings, Whitworth came in second with 25 points. Linfield earned the championship with a total of 31 points and Puget Sound came in third with 24 points.
Contact Corina Gebbers at firstname.lastname@example.org.