Whitman women golfers shine in opener

Monday, Sep 10, 2012

CLARKSTON, Wash. — Whitman College’s women’s golf team tested its wings for the first time here Saturday at Quail Ridge in a three-way team competition that included Whitworth University and host Lewis-Clark State College.

The Missionaries finished second in team scoring, but Whitman coach Skip Molitor was more than pleased with his team’s 315 score that came within four shots of equaling LCSC’s winning 311 tally. Whitworth shot 341 and settled for third place.

“An opening match of this caliber against perennially strong programs is a great way to prepare for our rigorous fall schedule,” Molitor said. “I was impressed with our team’s ability to play at a high level against top-notch competition this early in the season.”

Molitor noted that Lewis-Clark State has qualified for the NAIA National Championships in six of the last nine years and is expected to be in contention again this year in the Frontier Conference. Whitworth, one of Whitman’s Northwest Conference rivals, qualified for the NCAA Division III nationals as recently as 2009.

Junior Caitlin Webber (Bellevue, Wash.) and sophomore Kelly Sweeney (Enumclaw, Wash.) matched four-over-par 75s on the par-71 layout to lead the way for Whitman. They finished tied for third place individually, just two shots behind Emily Guthrie of Whitworth, who led the field with a two-over 73, and one behind the Warriors’ Idah Whisenant, who shot 74 for second place.

Sweeney parred 15 of the first 16 holes and Webber’s round included three birdies and saw her hit 11 greens and 10 fairways.

“To have a pair of 75s this early is a very good sign of good things to come,” Molitor said.

Senior Taylor Head (Bellingham, Wash.) scored an 80 and freshman Alyssa Maine (Spokane) followed with an 85 for Whitman’s other two team-counting scores. Senior Caitlin Holland (Edgewood, Wash.), the fifth member of the varsity team, carded an 88 while junior Katie Zajicek (Corvallis, Ore.) fired an 81 but was scored as an individual.

Next up for Whitman is the O’Brien Invitational that will be played on the Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame University campus in South Bend, Ind., beginning Sunday.

“It’s a field that will feature 10 of the nation’s top NCAA Division III programs,” Molitor said.