Game of the Week: NWC Golf Championship tourney

Noah Moskat

Brian Barton, '11, has shot right around par at every event the men's team has competed in, even winning the NWC fall classic. Credit: Hong
Brian Barton, '11, has shot right around par at every event the men's team has competed in, even winning the NWC fall classic. Credit: Hong

The year’s biggest moment has arrived for Whitman’s golf teams: where both the stakes and the pressure will reach their highest point.

This Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26, both squads will participate in their respective Northwest Conference Championship tournaments. Though held on the same dates, the men’s and women’s championships will take place at different locations: the men’s at Tokatee Golf Course in Blue River, Ore., and the women’s at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima, Wash.

Conference brings much more than just an endnote to the season. In each of the year’s previous major events, the conference Fall and Spring Classics, teams receive one point in the standings for each opposing team that they outscore. At the championship tournaments, however, teams receive two points: leaving the door open for movement among the rankings.

“All the other tournaments were just practice, in essence,” said men’s golf coach Peter McClure, who places the championships on a level all their own.
McClure views this weekend as a chance for his team to move up in the standings. Currently tied with Pacific Lutheran for sixth place, McClure believes the men can push themselves to an even higher final ranking.

“Our goal for the championships is to finish in the top five,” said McClure. “I think we have a very good chance of doing that.”

The men are led by sophomore Brian Barton, an all-conference golfer who has finished near the top of several tournaments this year. Joining Barton are juniors Steve Campbell and Paul De Barros, sophomore Noah Jolley and first-years John Abercrombie and David DeVine.

On the women’s side of the tee, the team worked diligently this year but is still relatively small and attempting to establish itself more firmly as a program. Seeded in eighth place, they may mostly be playing for pride this weekend: but the team hopes to use this tournament as a stepping stone for future growth.

“I hope that we improve as a team,” said sophomore Sydney Saito, the top women’s golfer this year. “We’ve had a pretty good season so far. If we’re able to execute in the tournament, we’ll be in good shape.”

Saito will be joined by senior Sophia Sady and first-years Allison Lodine and Jennifer Keyes.

In the women’s overall standings Whitworth heads the pack, and should be considered the favorite having won both regular season tournaments. On the men’s side, Pacific University holds a slim lead, followed closely by Linfield and University of Puget Sound. All three have a shot to nab the conference crown.

Although they may not be in the running for the top spots, this weekend will still mean a great deal to Whitman’s teams. Conference marks the culmination of a season’s worth of practice and training, and gives one last chance for golfers to leave their mark and end on a positive note: not to mention setting the tone for next year, when both teams’ rosters will remain almost entirely intact.

“I’m really pleased with the team we have this year,” said McClure. “They’re focused and they know what they want to accomplish. We have had great expectations, and they continue to be fulfilled.”