LOTS OF GOLF TO OPEN THE SPRING SEASON: Pacific Lutheran opens the spring portion of its 2011-12 men's golf season on Thursday with 72 holes of golf over the next four days. PLU plays at the UPS Logger Invitational on March 1-2 at Fircrest Golf Club, and then hosts the Lutes Invitational on March 3-4 at The Home Course in Dupont. Both are two-round, 36-hole stroke play tournaments.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: The UPS Logger Invitational is an annual event for the Lutes, who this year will compete against the host school plus Whitworth University and North Idaho College. Last year the Lutes finished fourth in a five-team event won by Oklahoma Christian. Pacific Lutheran's best players last year were Daron Casey and Scott Zhang, who tied for 10th with two-round totals of 155. Those two are the only seniors on this year's PLU team. Dustin Hegge placed 13th in 2011 with a 157, and as a sophomore this season had a very solid fall season. But more on that in a minute. PLU players entered in the UPS tournament are Hegge, Casey, Zhang, Tim Livermore, Sam Hodge and Auston Hilkin.
LUTES HOST OWN INVITATONAL: Second-year PLU head coach Kris Swanson decided to take advantage of having several teams already in the area for the UPS tournament by hosting his own invitational this Saturday and Sunday at The Home Course in Dupont. The first annual Lutes Invitational is an eight-team event that features seven Northwest Conference squads, in addition to North Idaho College. The 36-hole tournament includes PLU, UPS, Whitworth, Willamette, George Fox, North Idaho, Linfield and Pacific.
SPRING SEASON: Coach Swanson has scheduled a challenging spring schedule for a PLU team that he thinks can compete for a Northwest Conference title. Following these opening two tournaments the Lutes will play March 12-13 at the Texas Lutheran Invitational at Vaaler Creek Golf Club in Blanco, Texas. That tough event will help prepare the team for the NWC Spring Classic on March 31 and April 1 at Wildhorse in Pendleton, Ore., and finally for the NWC Championships on April 21-22 at Canyon Lakes in Kennewick. The two NWC tournaments, added together with the NWC Fall Classic results, will determine the overall conference champion. "We are excited about the spring season," Swanson said. "Our guys know they are coming off a strong fall, and we expect to contend for the conference trophy this spring. We are really close to making a statement."
FALL HIGHLIGHTS: Dustin Hegge won two tournaments during the fall, starting with the Whitworth Invitational title. More importantly, he fired an even-par 144 over 36 holes to win medalist honors at the Northwest Conference Fall Classic men's golf tournament held Oct. 22-23 at Heron Lakes Golf Club in Portland, Ore. The tournament was played on the par 72, 6,491-yard Great Blue Course at Heron Lakes. Hegge, who automatically earned first team all-conference honors as a result of this tournament title, became the first Pacific Lutheran golfer to win one of the Northwest Conference's three "major" tournaments - NWC Fall Classic, NWC Spring Classic, NWC Championships - since Chris Packard won the 2007 NWC Fall Classic. Pacific Lutheran finished fifth in the Fall Classic but was just five strokes from third place.
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