By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
BEND, Ore. -- Freshman Ben Graham (Renton, WA/Liberty HS) from Willamette University and three other golfers, including teammate Kenneth Sheldon (Jr., Ocean Park, WA/Ilwaco HS), qualified for a playoff with 36-hole scores of 149 as the Willamette Spring Thaw concluded on Sunday, April 15 at the Pronghorn Resort Golf Club. Graham won the individual title on the second playoff hole. The Bearcats finished in a tie for fourth in the team standings.
The playoff featured Graham and Sheldon, plus Lucas Balala from Linfield College and Mason Koch from George Fox University. Graham shot 73-76 prior to the playoff, while Sheldon shot 70-79, Balala carded 78-71 and Koch earned 72-77. With Graham winning the title, Sheldon, Balala and Koch tied for second place.
Austin Darnell of Pacific Lutheran University and Triston Hartfiel of Whitworth University tied for fifth at 152. Darnell shot 79 and 73, with Hartfiel recording scores of 74 and 78. Isaac Grebisz from Linfield was seventh with a score of 153 (79-74). Caleb Belton (76-78) from Whitworth and Jimmy Jacobson (78-76) from Whitman College tied for eighth place wth matching overall scores of 154. A total of 45 golfers completed both rounds.
Joining Graham and Sheldon on Willamette's team were Spencer Hong (Sr., Bellevue, WA/Singapore American School) and Trent Jones (Jr., Kenmore, WA/Shorecrest HS). Hong tied for 18th place at 161 after shooting an 80 in the first round and an 81 in the second round. Jones shot 175 for the tournament (92-83).
Linfield won the team title with a score of 620 (318-302). The Wildcats' 302 on Sunday was the low round of the tournament. Linfield won by seven strokes over Pacific Lutheran, which finished second at 627 (322-305). Whitworth was third at 631 (315-316). Willamette tied four fourth place with George Fox at 634. The Bearcats shot 315-319, while the Bruins shot 309-325. Whitman College was sixth with a score of 639 (319-320), while Pacific University placed seventh at 673 (324-349), and Lewis & Clark College was eighth at 50 (373-377).
Willamette will compete at the NWC Tournament on April 21-22 at Oakbrook Golf Club in Lakewood, Washington. The NWC Tournament is worth one-half of the NWC Championship. The NWC Fall Classic and the NWC Spring Classic, both already completed, are each worth one-fourth of the title. Willamette won the NWC Fall Classic and placed fifth at the NWC Spring Classic.