PORTLAND, Ore. – Positioning three golfers among the top 10 scorers, the Linfield men’s golf team enjoyed a decent start to the nine-team Northwest Conference Fall Classic tournament.
Saturday’s first round saw the Wildcats shoot a collective 298 over 18 holes, placing the Wildcats comfortably in second place behind leader Puget Sound. The Loggers shot an even-par-288 to lead the field. Pacific Lutheran is third at 306, followed by Whitworth (312), Whitman (315), Pacific (317), George Fox (322) and Willamette (327). Lewis & Clark did not field a full team, rendering its team score incomplete.
The NWC Fall Classic, which counts one quarter towards determining the 2011-12 conference champion, is being staged on the Great Blue Course of Heron Lakes Golf Club.
Linfield star Alex Fitch shot a 1-under-par 71 to share third place, trailing only Pacific Lutheran’s Dustin Hegge (68) and Puget Sound’s Matt Kitto (69).
Fitch missed converting a couple of putts that could have staked his position atop the leaderboard after the tournament’s first round. In all, the Linfield senior had three birdies and a pair of bogeys.
Wildcats freshman Ryan Nolan is tied for fifth place at 1-over-73. Nolan turned in two eagles on the back nine to surge into the top five. Teammate Tommy Schmitz continued his strong play of late with a 4-over-76, good for a share of 10th place. Schmitz’s round included a triple bogey on hole 13, but he recovered sufficiently to finish in contention.
A.J. Taylor (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) recovered from a slow start that saw him five strokes over par after four holes. Taylor ended the day at 6-over-78, sharing 13th place. Freshman Thomas Arand (Jr., McMinnville, Ore.) was one stroke back, tied for 16th place.
“Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way we played today,” said Wildcats coach Greg Copeland. “If we can get off to a good start (Sunday), we can put some pressure on UPS. That will be key.”
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