Willamette to compete for NWC golf title

After winning its first-ever Northwest Conference men's golf title last spring, the University of Puget Sound will be among the favorites when the 2003 championship tournament gets underway Monday, April 21, at Tokatee Golf Course near Blue River.

The 54-hole tournament begins at 8 a.m. Monday with the first of two rounds. Monday's second round is slated for about 1 p.m., to be followed by an 8 a.m. start time for Tuesday's closing round.

Teams can enter as many six golfers. Team scores are based each day on each school's top four individual scores.

Whitman College is hosting this year's competition, which includes a total of seven schools. In addition to Puget Sound and Whitman, competing schools are Lewis & Clark College, Linfield College, Pacific University, Pacific Lutheran University, and Willamette University.

Puget Sound won last year's tournament with a three-day team score of 893, nine shots in front of second-place Pacific Lutheran. Willamette was a close third with a 904 total, while Linfield placed fourth at 912.

In regular season tournaments this spring, Puget Sound won the Pacific Invitational, edging Linfield by a single stroke, and added a victory at the Whitman Invitational, beating Pacific Lutheran by eight shots. Pacific Lutheran was the winner at the Willamette Invitational, outshooting Pacific by 12 strokes and Willamette by 13.

Puget Sound had three players finish in the top 10 at last year's conference championships. Travis Allen, who placed fifth, has graduated, but the Loggers return sophomores Matt Ristine and Ian Courtnage, who placed sixth and seventh, respectively. Freshman Justin Benz has also bolstered Puget Sound's roster this season.

Pacific Lutheran, which won NWC titles in 2001 and 2000, lost two-time medalist Tyler Kalberg to graduation, but the Lutes cupboard is far from bare. Senior Brian Bronk, who finished in a three-way tie for second at last year's tournament, is back along with junior Todd Randolph and sophomores Chris Keough and Kurt Inouye.

Willamette, which won its last men's golf title in 1999, returns sophomore Kris Hunt, who tied for second a year ago, and sophomore Paul Criselli, who tied for seventh. Another sophomore, Rio Kuteira, has also scored well for the Bearcats this spring.

Linfield's hopes hinge in part on Wildcat sophomores Jeff Dunn and Dave Cramer. Dunn tied for second at last year's championships, while Cramer placed tenth.

For this week's tournament, Tokatee will play at par 72 with a distance of
6,832 yards.