Burks-led Missionary men heat up at Tri-Mountain

Monday, Oct 29, 2012

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. — Whitman College finished off the fall portion of its men’s golf season in style here Sunday at the Tri-Mountain Golf Course during the second round of the Northwest Conference Fall Classic.

The Missionaries, who struggled in the rain and mud and cold temperatures during Saturday’s first round of the tournament, shot a season-best 293 team score, a 27-shot improvement over their first-round score, and climbed from sixth place to a tie for fourth in the final team standings.

“We set a goal of 300 for the second day,” Whitman coach Pete McClure said. “The guys said, ‘Why not do better than 3,’ and that’s what they did.

With temperatures much higher but the rain still falling, Whitman senior Geoff Burks (Edmonds, Wash.) took matters into his own hands with a 4-under-par 68 that was one shot shy of second-day medalist honors. Burks’ hot round came one day after he opened tournament play with a dissapointing 82.

“He had no feel for his swing on Saturday,” McClure said of Burks. “But he had his game back together on Sunday.”

Burks’ 36-hole score of 150 was good for a share of 10th place individually with Whitworth’s Oliver Rudnicki. They finished eight shots off the pace set by Willamette’s Ryan Kukula, who also carded 68 Sunday after a first-round 74. His 2-under-par 142 score edged Whitworth’s Jesse Salzwedel by one stroke and Pacific Lutheran’s Dustin Hegge by two.

Hegge shot a first-round 71 and was in sole possession of first place as play began Sunday. But he shot a second-round 73 and lost ground to both Kukula and Salzwedel, the latter shooting 2-under-par 70 the second day.

Whitworth won the team championship with a 587 score, 19 strokes ahead of second-place University of Puget Sound’s’s 606 score. PLU was another shot back at 607, with Whtiman and Linfied knotted in fourth place at 613. Willamette placed sixth at 624, followed by George Fox 629, Lewis & Clark 670 and Pacific 681.

Whitman freshman Evan Dyar of Spokane shot a 1-under-par 71 Sunday and finished in a tie for 13th place with a 152 score for 36 holes. Sophomore Scott Martin (Escondido, Calif.) and freshman Daniel Hoffman (Los Altos, Calif.) each shot 77 Sunday, with Martin placing 17th at 154 and Hoffman 23rd at 157. Freshman Connor Hood (Bellevue, Wash.) followed up a first-round 86 with a second-round 81 that was good for a 167 score and 35th place in the field of 44.

Burks started his day with a 20-foot birdie putt and concluded it with a 40-footer for birdie. On the day, he made six birdies and two bogeys.

Dyar’s round included four birdies and three bogeys, two of them coming in the first three holes of play.

“I played solid the rest of the day and had a lot of good opportunities for birdies,” Dyar said. “My putting was greatly improved from the previous day.”

Martin was steady hitting greens and fairways, but his putter acted up during a round that included three birdies and eight bogeys.

“I spent too much time practice putting, if you know what I mean,” he said.

Hoffman made six bogeys and just one birdie.

“I had eight birdie putts within 15 feet and left five of them dead center short,” he said. “I could have gone lower.”

“This sure is a good way to go into the off season,” McClure said. “And these guys never gave up. They were disappointed after Saturday, but not to the point where they considered anything other than doing their very best the next day.

“I am looking forward to next spring, and so are the guys, I’m sure.”