DUPONT, Wash. – Battling blustery winds as well as many of their regional rivals, Linfield golfers Alex Fitch and Taylor Klopp (Jr., Eugene, Ore.) posted the two leading scores during the opening round of the Lutes Invitational Saturday at The Home Course.
Pacific Lutheran hosted the eight-team event on The Home Course, a challenging layout that served as one of the host courses for the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
Fitch, the defending NWC champion, shot an even-par 72, matched only by his freshman teammate, Klopp.
Playing with renewed confidence that he said he lacked during the fall season, Klopp spotted 14 greens on approach shots.
“Everything felt really good today,” said Klopp, who was competing with the Linfield varsity for the first time. “I made a lot of pars with two birdies and two bogeys. I struck the ball really well today with my irons. My iron play was definitely my strength today.”
“We played well,” said Fitch, the Wildcats’ team captain. “I was a little rusty coming out this spring. I missed a couple of short puts on the front nine but got it going on the back nine.”
Wildcat A.J. Taylor (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) shared seventh place after Day 1 with a five-over-par 77. Taylor Pirnke (Jr., Mill Creek, Wash.) was two back at 79 while rookie Connor Magnuson carded an 81 on his first collegiate outing.
Together, the Wildcats shot an even 300 for the day, four strokes fewer than Northwest Conference rival Whitworth. PLU is eight strokes back at 312, followed by North Idaho College (315), Puget Sound (322), George Fox (327), Willamette (329) and Pacific (358).
“The wind made it more of a challenge coming out on the front nine,” said Fitch. “We came in with the goal of shooting 300. We’re pretty happy with where we are.”
Play resumes Sunday morning.
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