WOODBURN, Ore. – Slotting three golfers among the top 10 individuals, Linfield opened up a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Northwest Conference Tournament staged Saturday at Oregon Golf Association Course.
Carding a 1-under-par 71, Wildcats freshman Adam Ruben owns a one-stroke advantage over four close pursuers heading to Sunday’s second round.
“Adam got off the tee well and gave himself a lot of birdie opportunities,” said Wildcats coach Greg Copeland. “The greens were recently aerated so it wasn’t the easiest time putting the ball but he was able to convert.”
Among the four-way deadlock for second place is Linfield’s Taylor Klopp (Jr., Eugene, Ore.), who sits tied with Puget Sound’s Adam Bean, Willamette’s Ryan Kukula and Whitworth’s Stephen Plopper, all at 72.
Copeland praised Klopp’s crisp round of 72.
“Taylor played really consistent. He had three birdies and performed very well with his chipping and putting.”
Linfield senior A.J. Taylor (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) scored a 75 and sits tied for eighth place. Taylor Pirnke (Jr., Mill Creek, Wash.) shot a 5-over 77 to share 15th place and Ryan Nolan is two strokes back at 79, tied for 19th place.
“It was good to see A.J. hitting the ball well today,” said Copeland. “He had one birdie and four bogeys, but all in all, a very solid round.”
Whitworth shot 297 to trail Linfield by two strokes in the team standings. Puget Sound is third at 304, followed by Whitman’s 310. Pacific Lutheran (313), Pacific and Willamette (320), Lewis & Clark (322) and George Fox (353) rounded out the team scores.
The NWC Tournament, one of three major tournaments during the 2012-13 season, counts 50 percent toward determining the league’s champion and the automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championships.
Though Linfield, which is fourth overall, is unlikely to overtake Whitworth in the season point standings, the Wildcats are in decent position to climb a rung or two.
“We have a good opportunity to jump into second place,” said Copeland. “All we need to do is play like there is no pressure on us.”
Action continues at noon Sunday on the OGA Course.
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