Jessica Prokop – Review staff writer. The men’s golf team took first place by a whisker during the Fall Classic at Heron Lakes Golf Club in Portland, its last tournament of the fall season, on Oct. 17 and 18.
The final team standings after the tournament showed Linfield in first place with a total of 591; Whitworth University, 594; Pacific University, 596; University of Puget Sound, 607; George Fox University, 623; Pacific Lutheran University, 624; Whitman College, 629; Willamette University, 642; and Lewis & Clark College, 658.
“I thought we were going to take first, even though we hadn’t played University of Puget Sound before,” head coach Greg Copeland said. “They are a solid team. We were still the favored team to win.”
Because of wind and rain during the first 11 holes, the first day proved to be a difficult one for the Wildcats, resulting in higher scores for several players. Senior Tyler Nelson broke even by the end of the day, however, after sinking four birdies.
Nelson made five birdies the next day but was still in close competition with Max Bonk from Pacific University for first place. The players were tied on the 18th hole, but Nelson pulled through with a par while Bonk bogeyed.
Nelson won the tournament with a total score of 141 and three under par, which automatically qualified him for the All-Conference team for the fourth year in a row.
“It is really intense, and there is a lot of pressure, but it is always fun being tied while going into the last hole,” Nelson said.
Senior Yutaro Sakamoto came in fourth overall with a total of 147 and three over par. He sank birdies on the last two holes the second day, propelling his team to victory.
“This was definitely Yutaro’s best tournament of the season, and I am very proud of him,” Nelson said.
The Fall Classic counts for 25 percent of all available points awarded to conference champions. Two major spring tournaments contribute to conference champions, as well. The first is worth 25 percent; the second, 50 percent.
Copeland said he believes that the men are capable of winning these tournaments.
However, Nelson said there are a couple of things that need to be addressed during the offseason for the team to achieve lower scores so it will win with more comfort instead of by a close margin.
The women’s team also placed at the Fall Classic, taking third overall.
George Fox University finished with 651; Whitworth University, 663; Linfield, 681; UPS, 708; Whitman College, 708; Pacific University, 741; Pacific Lutheran University, 772; Willamette University, 818; and Lewis & Clark College, 855.
“I was not surprised by getting third place because the team did great and was able to finish in the top,” head coach Karly Cramer said.
Senior Brittany Johnston played a solid game Oct. 17. However, although she began the second day strong, the last four holes proved challenging, and she double-bogeyed on holes 16 and 18.
She tied for fifth overall and took first for the team with a score of 166 and 22 over par. She sank one birdie each day.
“I was worried about the weather on the first day, but I played a solid game,” Johnston said. “I was a little disappointed with my score the second day because I was hoping to drop a few strokes.”
Junior Brynn Hurdus, the team’s usual leading player, was disqualified the first day because of a technical error involving the replacement of her ball after it had to be moved for another player. When Hurdus turned in her scorecard, she forgot to add a penalty stroke, not realizing it until the ride home. She called the committee to inform them of the error, which resulted in her disqualification.
In spite of this, Hurdus played well the second day and shot an 81.
“Brynn did the right thing and handled the situation with honor,” Cramer said. “The whole team felt good about how we proceeded with the mistake.”
Despite the error, the disqualification did not affect the final standings.
Sophomore Sophie Corr came in 10th overall and with a 169 and 25 over par, while junior Katie Kilborn birdied the 16th hole and eagled the 17th hole on the second day, giving her a 10-stroke improvement. She took 16th overall with a score of 174 and 30 over par.
Johnston said she is looking forward to the spring season, as sophomore Meghan Crowder will play again after sustaining an injury earlier in the fall season.
Although specific tournaments are not scheduled yet, the spring season for the women’s team will begin in mid-March or early April. The men’s season begins in February.