Linfield Wildcats

April 27, 2014
Pirnke heats up, 'Cats fifth at NWCs
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WOODBURN, Ore. – Showing a 17-stroke improvement from his first round to his second, Linfield junior Taylor Pirnke turned in one of the best rounds of the Northwest Conference Championship tournament on Sunday.
And though his team bettered its Day 1 total by six strokes, the Wildcats were unable to make up any ground and instead settled for fifth place, both on the NWC Championship scoreboard and in the final 2013-14 NWC point standings. The Wildcats scored 315-309-624, 22 strokes behind champion Pacific Lutheran.
After a rocky round on Saturday that saw his score balloon to 90, Pirnke was one of the NWC's smoothest golfers on Sunday, scoring a season-low 73 to equal the closing round of medalist Jesse Salzwedel of Whitworth.
Three birdies on the final five holes, including back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14, helped Pirnke to a 1-over 73 on Sunday.
“I was able to keep the ball in play, that was the key for me,” said Pirnke. A chip-in for birdie on the par-3 sixth hole gave the Linfield junior some early momentum.
In addition to stiff competition from the eight other NWC teams, Linfield battled vacillating weather. Conditions  alternated from sun to rain, wind and hail, keeping all the competitors guessing.
Linfield's highest finisher at the two-day, season-culminating event was Logan Munson, who carded a 74-79-153 to tie for eight place with Puget Sound's Adam Bean and Whitworth's Oliver Rudnicki. As a top-10 finisher, Munson received second team all-NWC honors.
Three Wildcats were among the top 20 performers. In addition to Munson, Linfield's A.J. Taylor shot 76-80-156 to share 16th place and Taylor Klopp scored 81-77-158 to grab a portion of 20th place.
Pirnke was 29th overall and Kevin Kawasaki carded 84-83-167 to tie for 35th.
Pacific Lutheran captured the men's tournament trophy, as well as the overall title, earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship. It marked the first men's golf title for PLU since 2001 and was the first time since 2004 that a team other than Linfield or Whitworth was crowned team champion.
“Obviously, the NWC has gotten a lot more competitive over the last three years,” said Pirnke. “For us to contend next year, we put our experience together with more hard work. We know we all have the ability and the work ethic to go out and win the title next year. We're optimistic about the future.”
‘CAT SCRATCH: Taylor is the Wildcats' lone graduating senior. . . Linfield's fifth-place showing was its lowest finish in the conference in 20 years. . . the ‘Cats have placed third or better in each of the previous nine seasons. . . a Linfield golfer claimed the individual crown at the NWC Championship each of the last three years. . . last year's winner, Adam Ruben, was declared academically ineligible in the fall when an insufficient number of credits from his community college transferred to Linfield and he was unable to show satisfactory progress toward graduation.
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Taylor Pirnke
Season-best 73