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April 19, 2012

Men's Golf Prepares for Season's Final Major

THE SEASON'S FINAL MAJOR: Pacific Lutheran's men's golf team will be competing in the Northwest Conference Championships this weekend. The tournament will take place at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick, Wash., this Saturday and Sunday.

TOURNAMENT WEB SITE: The NWC men's golf tournament web site can be viewed by clicking here.

PIRATES TO HOST: The 2012 Northwest Conference men's golf championship will be decided this coming weekend as Whitworth hosts the 2012 NWC Tournament at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick, Washington. The tournament will get underway on Saturday with a 1 p.m. shotgun start and will conclude on Sunday with a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start.

Defending Northwest Conference champion Linfield used an outstanding performance at last year's NWC Tournament at Canyon Lakes to vault to the league title.  The conference determines its annual champion by the combined results of the NWC Fall Classic (25 percent), NWC Spring Classic (25 percent) and NWC Tournament (50 percent).  Last season the Wildcats went into the NWC Tournament in third place in the league standings but won the final event to vault past Puget Sound and Pacific into the league title.

This season the roles are reversed.  Linfield heads into the NWC Tournament with 15 points based on the results of the Fall and Spring Classics, two points ahead of Whitman (13).  Puget Sound (12) and Whitworth (11) are also waiting in the wings should the teams ahead of them falter this weekend.

Weather and course conditions will play their own role in this weekend's action.  Scores have traditionally been higher when the NWC Tournament has been held in previous years at Canyon Lakes.

HEGGE SEEKING P.O.Y. HONORS: The race for individual Player of the Year honors is wide open as well.  Whitworth's Jesse Salzwedel, who won the NWC Spring Classic, leads the chase with 21.5 points, followed closely by PLU's Dustin Hegge with 21 (NWC Fall medalist) and Whitman's Scott Martin with 20.5.  Defending NWC Tournament champion Alex Fitch of Linfield (14.5) is a talented veteran who is also right in the mix.

PLU TEE TIMES AND PAIRINGS: The five competitors representing the Lutes at the NWC championships are freshman Tim Livermore, sophomores Dustin Hegge and Sam Hodge, and seniors Scott Zhang and Daron Casey. PLU will be in a three-school pairing along with George Fox and cross-town rival Puget Sound. Tee times for all five pairings are set for 1 p.m.

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER SHOT: Last spring, the PLU men finished a disappointing seventh place carding a 641 total score (rounds of 319 and 322). Hegge led the way shooting a collective 12 over 156 (rounds of 79 and 77). The Linfield Wildcats took home the team trophy shooting a 19 over 595. The Wildcats were led by medalist Alex Fitch who shot a blistering two-under-par 142 over the two days. The Lutes will rely on their improved play this season to put themselves in contention this weekend against the conference elite.

2012 NWC SPRING CLASSIC RECAP: After leading following the first day of the Northwest Conference Spring Classic men's golf tournament held March 31 and April 1, Pacific Lutheran had a rough final round at Wildhorse Golf Course in Mission, Ore., on Sunday and dropped to fourth place. Linfield was the only team among the nine to improve on its first-round score and ended up winning the Spring Classic title. The Wildcats were in fifth place after Saturday with a 310, but they came back with a 299 today for a two-round score of 609, 33-over-par on the par 72, 6,620-yard course. They placed their four scoring golfers among the top 14 overall finishers. Whitman placed second with a 615 (300-315), followed by Whitworth with 616 (303-313) and PLU with 621 (299-322). Rounding out the team scores were Puget sound 626, George Fox 637, Willamette 641, Pacific 670, and Lewis & Clark 736. Whitworth's Jesse Salzwedel shot an even-par 72 on Sunday to go along with an opening-round 71 and won medalist honors by three strokes with his 143 total. Second place went to Whitman's Scott Martin with a 146 (70-76), followed by first-day leader Stephen Plopper from Whitworth at 148 (69-79) and PLU's Dustin Hegge at 149 (72-77). PLU's Daron Casey finished in 12th with a two-round score of 154 (74-80), and rounding out the Lutes scoring were Scott Zhang 158 (76-82), Tim Livermore 164 (77-87) and Auston Hilkin 165 (82-83).

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