RIDGEFIELD, Wash. – Linfield is on pace for a top-three finish at the first major Northwest Conference tournament of the year after a great opening round of the NWC Fall Classic Saturday at the Tri-Mountain Golf Course.
With three golfers in the top 15, the ‘Cats sit tied for third after 18 holes, totaling 357 strokes, 69 over par. Just seven strokes separate Linfield from second place, held by Whitman.
Leading the way for the Wildcats was Maggie Harlow (Soph., Hillsboro, Ore.). The freshman played her way into a three-way tie for seventh place, shooting a 14-over-par 86. Despite dealing with grip issues due to persistent misty conditions all morning and afternoon, she carded a birdie and was just five strokes off her career-best, achieved two weeks ago at Linfield’s home course.
In addition to dealing with water-logged greens and gear, the ‘Cats had the most trouble with approach shots, specifically on par-4 holes. But mentally, Linfield displayed real toughness.
“Overall the team did a fantastic job keeping a positive attitude. They didn’t let the weather get to them at all,” said head coach Brynn Hurdus. “When they had bad shots or bad holes they stayed positive. I never once saw them get down, which was a big improvement.”
Alexandria Smith (Sr., Bellingham, Wash.) was tied for 12th after the first round with an 88, 16 strokes over par. Playing well even without rain gloves, Sophie Corr finished two strokes back, tied for 14th place with a 90.
Linfield’s most seasoned veteran, Brinn Hovde, finished just outside of the top 20, carding 93 strokes. Though her score did not factor into Linfield’s total, Erin Heltsley shot 109, good for 33rd place.
Defending NWC Fall Classic champion and fifth-ranked George Fox opened up a 36-stroke lead over the rest of the field. Barring a complete meltdown by the Bruins, the prize for the seven remaining teams is second place.
After George Fox (314) and Whitman (350), Linfield and Whitworth are tied for third (357) and are followed by Willamette (365), Pacific Lutheran (393), Pacific (401) and Puget Sound (440).
“I definitely think we can improve on our scores,” Hurdus said. “We’re only seven strokes back. I don’t see why [second place] shouldn’t be a possibility. It’s something to strive for.”
COMING UP: Second round action begins Sunday with another 8:30 a.m. shotgun start.
Looks to crack top 20 on Day 2
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