Strong winds and rain create challenge for Pirates during conference match
by Connor Soudani
The Whitworth men’s golf team continued its season this weekend after a week off by competing at the PLU Invitational on the Chambers Bay Golf Course. The wind and rain, however, made for a rough first day of competition.
“We haven’t had these kind of conditions before in this season,” Whitworth head coach Warren Friedrichs said. “It was tough going out there.”
Freshman Oliver Rudnicki led the way for the Pirates on day one, shooting a 74 through 18 holes. Freshman Tyler McQuilkin shot 76, junior Stephen Plopper shot a 79, senior Christian Boudreau shot 84 and freshman Lyle Rudnicki rounded out the first day of scoring for the men with an 85. Whitworth shot a team score of 313 to finish fourth out of eleven teams after the first day of competition.
“305 was more of the target for us today, but unfortunately we just couldn’t get it,” Friedrichs said.
High winds of around 25 mph combined with relentless rain and the dunes and narrow greens with traps made for some of the most challenging conditions that the Pirates have faced all year.
“It was pretty rough out there today,” Oliver Rudnicki said. “It was really windy that first nine, but the back nine played better. We just had to grind it out really.”
Host Pacific Lutheran University led the team scoring with 304, followed by University of Puget Sound with 305 and Whitman College with 310. Whitworth finished fourth with 313, followed by George Fox and Willamette.
While tallying eight strokes more than they had hoped, the men were confident about shooting their goal on Monday.
“If Lyle [Rudnicki] starts shooting what he did at Whitman, we’ll have a much better shot at hitting our mark of 305 ,” Friedrichs said. “We just couldn’t get a fourth score in the seventies today, and it killed us.”
Oliver Rudnicki was focused on what he had to do for the conclusion of the tournament on Monday.
“The weather will be the same, so the game plan will be the same,” Oliver Rudnicki said. “We’ve got to get through that first nine and go low on the back nine for our best shot with scoring.”
As for the finishes of the other teams this weekend, Friedrichs isn’t discouraged.
“I knew this season that it would come down to five teams for conference and that any one of them could win any tournament at any given time,” Friedrichs said. “Conference conditions won’t be like what we had today though, and having Jesse [Salzwedel] around will help.”
Despite the gloomy conditions of the day, the team did find a bright spot in freshman Tyler McQuilkin, who shot a 76 through 18 to finish second in team scoring. McQuilkin finished the day with his best tournament appearance since the Lewiston Triangular on Sept. 15.
“It feels pretty good to finally get out there and go to work,” McQuilkin said. “The conditions were rough but it was a lot of fun to play out there.”
This revived play of McQuilkin is a key for the Pirates’ continuation of the tournament on Monday, and his consistency will be needed.
“I think I can keep it going. A lot of things felt better out there and I can learn from that and move forward,” McQuilkin said.
As the men prepared for Monday’s competition, there were a lot of things that the men wanted to keep in mind.
“We came off a good win last weekend at Whitman which is keeping our spirits high,” Oliver Rudnicki said. “However, these guys on the other teams are mostly all from the Pacific Northwest, so they know how to play in the wind and rain.”
Due to Whitworthian press time, results from Monday’s competition were unavailable for the print issue. Check online at www.thewhitworthian.com for extended coverage of Monday’s competition.
The men’s team, who are preparing for conference now, will have a tight race as golfers compete for roster spots on the conference team. The NWC Classic will be a true testing point for the Pirates on their quest for nationals this season.
The NWC Classic will commence on Oct. 27-28 in Ridgefield, Wash. at the Tri Mountain Golf Course.
Men’s Golf Update:
The men’s golf team completed its last tournament before the conference tournament this weekend at the PLU Invitational. While sitting in fourth place after competition on Sunday, the Pirates moved up to tie with Whitman College and finished third after a strong performance on Monday.
“I feel good about the team’s performance this weekend,” head men’s golf coach Warren Friedrichs said. “We were able to send a couple of players who didn’t play in the last tournament, which is always nice to do.”
Freshman Oliver Rudnicki led the way for the Pirates, tying for third at the tournament after shooting a 74, 75. Freshman Tyler McQuilkin finished second on the team for the men and tied for 14th overall, shooting a 76, 79. Junior Stephen Plopper shot a 79 each day while senior Christian Boudreau shot 84, 78 and freshman Lyle Rudnicki shot 85, 82 to round out the scoring for the Pirates.
“The conditions were considerably better on Monday, but we still didn’t perform at our best,” Oliver Rudnicki said. “We’re fired up to go to conference though because we feel like we can play a lot better.”
As the conference tournament draws closer, the competition for the conference title will be tough.
“There are some pretty good teams out there in PLU, UPS, Whitman, Linfield and ourselves,” Friedrichs said. “It’s the deepest league I’ve seen since I took over, but we’re building our depth with these different opportunities in tournaments.”
The Pirates will compete at the Northwest Conference Classic at Tri-Mountain Golf Course on Oct. 27 and 28.
Contact Connor Soudani at email@example.com.