Willamette Wins NWC Fall Classic; Jones Earns Individual Title on 1st Playoff Hole

Trent Jones (Jr., Kenmore, WA/Shorecrest HS)
Trent Jones (Jr., Kenmore, WA/Shorecrest HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

BANKS, Ore. -- Trent Jones (Jr., Kenmore, WA/Shorecrest HS) of Willamette University won the individual championship at the 2017 Northwest Conference Fall Classic in men's golf with a birdie on the first playoff hole on Sunday, Oct. 15 to cap a great weekend for the Bearcats. Willamette won the men's team title by 14 strokes with a 36-hole score of 6-under-par 562 at Quail Valley Golf Course. The Bearcats shot 282 in the first round on Saturday and followed up with a score of 280 in the second round on Sunday.

The Bearcats have won all four tournaments they entered this fall, including three in two weeks. Willamette took first place at the 2017 Collegiate Open on Sept. 17-18, the Whitworth Invitational on Oct 1-2, and the GFU Men's Invitational on Oct. 7-8 before participating in the NWC Fall Classic.

On Sunday, Jones finished regulation at 6-under-par 136 and tied with Mitchell Baldridge from Pacific Lutheran University. Jones shot 66-70, while Baldridge carded 67-69. The two golfers moved to the par-5 10th hole to start the sudden-death playoff. Jones sank a 10-foot putt for a birdie, and then Baldridge missed a two-foot putt that was also for birdie.

"Trent's win was awesome," Willamette Head Coach Patrick Daugherty said. "He hit the ball so well this weekend, and when he had to, he just grinded out pars. This win was all about maturity and the willingness to win."

Ben Graham (Fr., Renton, WA/Liberty HS) of Willamette placed third at 4-under-par 138 (70-69). Fourth place went to Mason Koch from George Fox University at 3-under-par 139 (71-68). Alex Plussquellec of GFU placed fifth at 142 (73-69). Elijah Pittser from Whitworth University was sixth at 143 (68-75) and Lucas Balala from Linfield College was seventh at 145 (74-71).

Sam Hinton (Jr., Seaside, OR/Seaside HS) from Willamette tied for eighth at 146 (77-69). He was matched by Triston Hartfield of Whitworth (70-76) and Clayton Rajewich from George Fox (71-75).

Also competing for Willamette were Kenneth Sheldon (Jr., Ocean Park, WA/Ilwaco HS) and Mason Phalen (Fr., Kenmore, WA/Inglemoor HS). Sheldon tied for 16th at 149 (69-80), while Phalen palced 22nd at 151 (78-73).

A total of 45 golfers participated in the tournament. Jones achieved the low round of the event with his 5-under-par 66 in the first round. Overall, a total of 16 sub-par rounds were recorded with six of them earned by the Bearcats. Baldridge at 67-69 for PLU was the only competitor to score below 70 in both rounds.

"This weekend was just outstanding," Daugherty commented. "It was the culmination of all the hard work and focus that the guys have given this fall. They put together one of the best fall seasons I've ever seen as a coach. Winning one tournament is hard, but to win four, with three of them consecutively, is unprecedented in the last eight years in the NWC. The team also holds three individual titles this fall. It was a really special fall season."

Willamette's 562 (282-280) topped the team leaderboard.  George Fox finished in second place at 576 (291-285). Pacific Lutheran edged out Whitworth for third place, as the Lutes shot 583 (290-293) and the Pirates shot 584 (288-296). Linfield was fifth at 594 (298-296), University of Puget Sound held sixth place at 604 (302-302), Pacific University took seventh at 612 (303-309), Whitman College was eighth at 618 (309-309), and Lewis & Clark College placed ninth at 633 (308-325).

The NWC Fall Classic is one of three tournaments used to determine the overall NWC champion. The Fall Classic is worth one-fourth of the overall title and the NWC Spring Classic also is worth one-fourth. The NWC Tournament at the end of the spring season counts for one-half of the title. Willamette leads the current standings with 8 points, followed by George Fox with 7, Pacific Lutheran with 6, Whitworth with 5, Linfield with 4, Puget Sound with 3, Pacific with 2, Whitman with 1 and Lewis & Clark with 0.

Willamette has completed its fall schedule. The Bearcats will be back in action during the spring semester.