WOODBURN, Ore. – Catching fire on the back nine, Linfield’s Adam Ruben proved his tournament-leading first round score of 71 was no fluke by winning the Northwest Conference Championship Tournament Sunday at Oregon Golf Association Course.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t on the roster when the season began in September.
The freshman, who transferred to Linfield from College of the Desert to begin the spring term, posted an identical 71 over Sunday’s second round to claim medalist honors by one stroke over Willamette’s Ryan Kukula. Ruben was 2-over par after three holes but used a savvy short game to finish the day at 1-under. His round included nine pars, plus birdies on holes 11, 13 and 15.
Three Wildcats placed among the top 15 individuals at the season-ending, nine-team tournament. Linfield shot a 303 on Sunday – and 598 for the tournament – to grab second place, five strokes behind overall winner Whitworth.
Aiding Linfield’s pursuit of Whitworth was Taylor Klopp (Jr., Eugene, Ore.), who shot 77 on Sunday and 149 for the tournament to finish tied for ninth place. A.J. Taylor (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) shared 15th place, carding 75-78-153. Ryan Nolan was three strokes back at 79-77-156, and Taylor Pirnke (Jr., Mill Creek, Wash.) scored 77-80-157 to take a portion of 22nd.
“We didn’t play quite as well as (Saturday) but we battled back to take second place, which everyone felt pretty good about,” said Pirnke. “We played well as a team. We stayed out of trouble, struck the ball really well and scored well.”
In the final championship-tournament team standings, Puget Sound shot a two-day total of 604 to earn third place, Whitman (613) was fourth, followed by Pacific Lutheran (616), Lewis & Clark (629), Willamette (630), Pacific (643) and George Fox (688).
Linfield was also second in the 2012-13 point standings, elevating from the fourth-place tie it held entering the weekend tournament.
The two-time defending Wildcats fell short of claiming the program’s third NWC team championship, but finished the season on an upbeat note.
“It’s a little bittersweet to be playing this well as a team and to know our season is over,” Pirnke said. “With everyone coming back, we’re confident about the future. It’s going to be exciting.”
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