NEWBERG, Ore. – Led by the four-under-par 140 by senior Alex Fitch, the Linfield Wildcats extended their first-day lead from 22 strokes to a final 55-shot margin and cruised to an easy victory at the George Fox Invitational Sunday afternoon at the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course.
Despite the varied elevation of Chehalem Glenn’s hilly course and occasionally persistent rain, the Wildcats registered one of the program’s best overall team scores in recent seasons.
“I was really impressed with the way our guys handled themselves out there,” said Wildcats coach Greg Copeland. “Even when things weren’t going well, they kept their composure.”
The Wildcats’ “A” team shot a blistering four-player score of 292, just four-over-par, on Sunday, finishing with a 17-over total of 593 after a 301 on Saturday. The host George Fox Bruins were second with a two-day score of 323-325-648, and the Linfield “B” team shot a 329-325-654. Lewis & Clark had two individuals entered but did not receive a team score.
Linfield’s “A” group took the top three individual spots, with the veteran Fitch carding matching 70s to take medalist honors by nine strokes.
“Alex is the hardest worker on our team and his success is a benefit of his hard labor,” said Copeland of the reigning NWC Player of the Year. “He told me today he didn’t hit the ball particularly well, but he was able to counter that by putting really well and managing to keep his score under par. Alex doesn’t concede anything and is always battling to the end of every hole.”
Linfield’s A.J. Taylor (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) was second with a 75-74-149, followed by Taylor Pirnke (Jr., Mill Creek, Wash.) with a 75-78-153. There was a three-way tie for fourth among Linfield’s Thomas Arand (Jr., McMinnville, Ore.) (82-75-157), George Fox’s Aleks Gabrio (76-81-157),and the Bruins’ Mike Ulstad (80-77-157).
Wildcats rookie Ryan Nolan trimmed 15 stokes off of his first-day score, improving from 88 to 73 for Sunday’s second-lowest round behind Fitch. Nolan shared seventh place with teammate Tommy Schmitz (Sr., Gresham, Ore.) who shot 83-78-161 to lead the Linfield “B” team. Jack Matthews had Lewis & Clark’s best score of 84-83-167, placing 13th.
COMING UP: The defending NWC champion Wildcats next compete Saturday and Sunday at the Pacific Invitational at Quail Valley Golf Course.
Sharp on the greens
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