UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Improving by 28 strokes from the first round to the second, the Linfield Wildcats elevated their standing from seventh to fifth place Monday at the Pacific Lutheran Invitational as play wrapped up at picturesque Chambers Bay Golf Club.
Linfield’s most noticeable difference in scoring came on the par-5 No. 8, where the Wildcats cut 10 strokes from that hole alone. The Wildcats struggled mightily on the eighth green on Sunday, combining to go 9-over-par, but bounced back with a collective 1-under score on Monday. By the end of the second round, the ‘Cats had shaved 28 strokes off their first-day score, the greatest improvement of any of the 11 teams at the tournament. Linfield’s final scorecard read 327-299-626.
Wildcats sophomore Taylor Klopp (Soph., Eugene, Ore.) shook off a ragged round Sunday to turn in a solid 72 on Monday, climbing out of a 10th place tie into a respectable fifth-place position. Klopp’s two-round score of 150 was seven strokes behind the leader.
Teammate Connor Magnuson (Soph., Albany, Ore.) was two strokes back at 74 for the day and ended in a tie for 16th place with a cumulative score of 83-74-157. Taylor Pirnke (Soph., Mill Creek, Wash.) also demonstrated noticeable gains, carding 82-76-168 to share 18th place, up from 24th.
A.J. Taylor (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.) tightened up his score by seven strokes Monday to finish 84-77-161, good for a tie for 27th place. Ryan Nolan (Soph., Tigard, Ore.) was five strokes better on Monday, shooting 84-79-163.
“Everybody struck the ball pretty well today,” said Klopp. “We hit a lot of solid shots. But overall, we could have putted better.”
Host PLU won the tournament with a 304-291-595, 13 strokes in front of runner-up Puget Sound. Adam Bean of UPS was crowned medalist with a 1-under-par total of 73-70-143. PLU’s Dustin Hegge was second at 74-73-147 followed by fellow Lute Auston Hilkin, who shot 74-75-149.
The rain-infested tournament was the Wildcats’ final tuneup prior to the NWC Fall Classic, Oct. 27-28, which counts one-fourth toward determining the NWC all-around team champion.
“We’re really coming into the Fall Classic with a good attitude,” said Klopp. “We have a lot more confidence now. I think we have good chance to perform well as long as we get our putters working. If we all put up consistent scores, we’ll fare well.”
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