WWCC golfers in mix at windy Bandon Dunes

The WWCC men are tied with Spokane at the Southwest Oregon Invitational.

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BANDON, Ore. - The Pacific Ocean showed its teeth here Sunday during the opening round of the Southwest Oregon Invitational golf tournament at the Bandon Dunes Resort.

Unseasonably mild weather greeted 67 men and 34 women as play commenced in the morning at the Old McDonald Course and at Bandon Dunes. But by day's end, wind, clouds, mist and rain numbed the players and sent scores soaring.

"The first half of the round the weather was very good for around here," Walla Walla coach Mike Rostollan said. "The sun shined and the wind was 10-to-12 miles per hour, which is dead-calm for these parts.

"But it turned about halfway through the day," Rostollan said. "The wind came up and clouds moved it. It misted and rained and the landing areas were so socked in at times that it became impossible to see your target on some holes."

Green River's David Kang shot a 4-over-par 75 to set the men's individual pace at the Old McDonald Course. He held a two-shot lead over a trio of players that included Walla Walla's Sage Ceniga going into today's second round at the par-72 Pacific Dunes course.

Ceniga, who entered play as WWCC's No. 5 player, shot 77 and was tied with Connor Clayes of Spokane and Brock Staller of Douglas College for second position in the men's standings.

Chad Smith of Bellevue and Kameron Lamb of Columbia Basin were another shot back at 78 while a trio of Warriors - Mike Ciez, Daryl Spivey and Andrew Grove - shot 79s and were in a six-player logjam for seventh place with Colton Klies of Bellevue, Broc Johnson of Green River and Dan McArthur of Fraser Valley.

Walla Walla and Spokane shared the team lead with 314 scores for each school's top four individual scores. Green River was alone in third place at 316, followed by Fraser Valley 323, Bellevue 324, Columbia Basin 326, Douglas 335, Central Washington University 349, Olympic 354, Southwest Oregon 355 and Grays Harbor 359.

Cole Sajonia of Walla Walla carded a non-counting 82 and was tied for 22nd place. Ash Miles, the Warriors' No. 2 player behind Spivey, scored 84 and was tied for 36th place.

"The players who teed off early had a little better time of it than those who started later," Rostollan said, noting that each school's top players were among the late starters. "Sage is our No. 5 guy and Andrew Grove is six, so it's nice to see those bench guys come through for us.

"And Mike Ciez made a 60-footer for birdie on the very difficult 18th hole that enabled us to get a share of the lead," the coach added. "Eighteen is a 469-yard par-4 dead into the wind. Most guys were hitting driver-3-wood and hitting into a huge bowl green. It's very challenging. For Mike to make a three where most others were making bogey or worse was exciting to see."

While the men were battling the Old McDonald Course, the women played Bandon Dunes that was being treated to the same kind of weather. Douglas had the team lead with a 257 score for its top three scores, followed by Bellevue 263, Spokane 266, Green River 267, Grays Harbor 319 and Centralia 323.

Bellevue's Katya Case shot 78 on the par-72 track for the individual lead, five strokes in front of Columbia Basin's Gina Ojeda and Spokane's Kesley Berg, both in at 83.

With just two women in attendance, Walla Walla did not figure into the team scoring. Kelsey Sage shot 87 for the Warriors and was in a ninth-place tie and Lindsay Johnson scored 98 and was tied for 22nd place.

The women move inland for today's second round and will face a Bandon Trails course that is quite different from the links-style courses along the coastline.

"Old McDonald and Bandon Dunes are true links courses," Rostollan said. "They're not long, but they have huge, rolling greens that are difficult to read. Bandon Trails is difficult, too, but different in that it is up in the trees, has a lot of severe changes in elevation, small greens and very tight landing areas."

The invitational is the final tuneup for the Warriors heading into next weekend's NWAACC Championships that will be played at Gold Mountain and McCormick Woods in Bremerton and Port Orchard.

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