ALOHA, Ore. – A final-round score of 73 by Taylor Klopp (Soph., Eugene, Ore.) vaulted the Linfield Wildcats to a one-stroke victory over early leaders Corban and Warner Pacific at the Pacific Spring Invitational on The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club’s South Course.
Klopp topped a list of four members of Linfield’s A squad to card scores in the 70s, allowing the Wildcats to trim six strokes off their team total from Saturday’s first round.
Linfield shot combined scores of 309-303-612 to edge NAIA programs Corban (308-305-613) and Warner Pacific (308-306-614) for the team trophy.
Linfield’s B squad held tight on its grip of fifth place at the eight-team tournament. Those ‘Cats shot 316-324-640 to place ahead of Northwest Conference varsity clubs Lewis & Clark, Willamette and Pacific, the host school.
Though Klopp regretted bogies on his final three holes that cost him medalist honors, the middle portion of his round was where he was at his best. In the span of six holes, the Linfield sophomore went from 2-over-par to 2-under, including birdies on holes 16 and 18.
“I definitely had the ball rolling well today,” Klopp said after the tournament. “Something clicked for me on the seventh hole and I really hit a hot spot. I had a much better day (than Saturday) striking the ball and I was more confident in my game.”
Klopp finished two strokes back of medalist Ryan Kukula of Willamette. Kukula shot 74 both days to total a 4-over-par 174. John-Michael Pilot from Warner Pacific was second at 76-73-149.
Adding buoyancy to the Linfield A squad’s score was Taylor Pirnke (Soph., Mill Creek, Wash.), who scored 76 on Sunday to finish with a two-round score of 154, good for 10th place. Adam Ruben (Fr., Lake Oswego, Ore.), who shot 73 on Sunday, was six strokes better than his first-round total, ending one stroke back of Pirnke at 155. Ryan Nolan (Soph., Tigard, Ore.) carded scores of 80-78-158 to tie Linfield’s early frontrunner, A.J. Taylor (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.), for 17th place. Taylor receded to an 83 after a team-best 75 a day earlier.
Linfield’s B squad was led by freshman Kyle Hargrave (Fr., Clackamas, Ore.), who scored 78-79-157 to nab 16th place. Adrian Koza (Fr., Portland, Ore.) and Logan Munson (Soph., Wilsonville, Ore.) each totaled 160 for the two-day event to tie for 21st, and Tommy Schmitz (Jr., Gresham, Ore.) scored 81-82-163 to grab a portion of 25th place. Kevin Kawasaki (Soph., West Linn, Ore.) turned in a 179, including a 93 on Sunday.
“Coming into today’s round, everyone was kind of nervous,” said Klopp of the Wildcats’ mindset. “The top four teams were bunched together and we knew is was anyone’s game. Our overall consistency paid off and kept our scores in the 70s for the most part.”
“It was a solid day,” said Wildcats coach Greg Copeland. “We gave away some putts but overall played really well. Our guys hit some really quality shots.”
Copeland cited as evidence Pirnke’s near hole-in-one on hole No. 5, a lofting par-3 shot that landed within inches of the cup. He also praised Ruben’s birdie on the same hole and Nolan’s consistent play across the final 12 holes after starting out 6-over par through six holes.
AHEAD: The Wildcats’ next scheduled event is in southern California during Spring Break. Linfield is scheduled to compete in the West Cup at Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma.
'Clicked on the seventh hole'
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