By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Kenneth Sheldon (Sr., Ocean Park, WA/Ilwaco HS) and Trent Jones (Sr., Kenmore, WA/Shorecrest HS) led the way for the Willamette University men's golf team, helping the Bearcats grab the lead at the end of the first day of the Northwest Conference Tournament on Saturday, April 27 at Wine Valley Golf Club. Sheldon was second on the men's leaderboard after shooting a 75 and Jones was tied for third with a 77. Willamette held first place in the team standings with a score of 309.
Action the tournament will conclude on Sunday, April 28 with the second round.
The NWC Tournament is worth one-half of the overall NWC Championship. The NWC Fall Classic and the NWC Spring Classic, each worth one-fourth of the title, have already been completed. The NWC Champion will be crowned at the end of Sunday's action.
"It was incredibly tough today," Willamette Head Coach Patrick Daugherty said. "The wind was steady at 20 miles per hour with gusts of 30. At no point did it let up. It was tough all day. With that being said, our guys played very smart with great intention. Their attention to detail in Round 1 was really fun to watch. Each guy had ups and downs for the round, but they stayed very positive and even-keeled."
Leading the field after the first round was Matthew McClure of Linfield College with a 2-over-par 74. Sheldon was second at 75. Jones, Mason Koch of George Fox University, Austin Darnell from Pacific Lutheran University, and Derrick Phelps from Whitworth University were tied for third at 77.
Three golfers, including Austin Davis (Fr., Culver City, CA/Culver City HS) of Willamette, along with Mac Turner from University of Puget Sound and Jordan Brajcich from Pacific Lutheran University were tied for seventh place at 78.
Another three-way tie followed for 10th place, shared by Andrew Kibbee (Fr., Kenmore, WA/Bothell HS) from Willamette, Jackson Hval from Linfield, and Dante Heitschmidt from George Fox, all at 79.
Also competing for Willamette on Friday was Sam Hinton (Sr., Seaside, OR/Seaside HS). Hinton started slowly, but shot 1-over-par on the final 14 holes to card an 80 for part of a four-way tie for 13th place. A total of 45 golfers are competing in the tournament.
"The guys know that you can't win on day one," Daugherty said. "They understand that they have put themselves in a good position and are really excited to have this opportunity. We will go out and give our best shot and see where the ball lands."
Willamette's score of 309 gave the Bearcats a nine-stroke advantage on the team leaderboard. Linfield was second at 318, and George Fox was one stroke behind the Wildcats in third place at 319. Pacific Lutheran owned fourth place at 322, just in front of Puget Sound in fifth place at 323. Whitworth was sixth at 325, with Pacific University in seventh at 350, Lewis & Clark College in eighth at 351, and Whitman College in ninth at 352.
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Kenneth Sheldon opened the NWC Tournament by shooting
a 75 to grab second place after 18 holes. He is just one stroke
behind the leader, Matthew McClure of Linfield at 74. Sheldon
helped Willamette register a team score of 309, placing the
Bearcats in first place after the first round.