Missionary women win Whitworth Invite

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SPOKANE — Whitman College bested the field for a second straight day here Monday at the Spokane Country Club and walked off the course with a comfortable 16-stroke victory margin in the Whitworth Invitational women’s golf tournament.

Led by Catelyn Webber’s second-place finish in the individual scoring, the Missionaries totaled 639 for two trips around the par-73 course to easily outdistance the host Whitworth Pirates, who finished second with a 655 score for their top four shooters.

Webber, a junior from Bellevue, shot a 7-over-par 80 during Monday’s second round of the 36-hole event for a final score of 158. She was eight shots behind Whitworth star Emily Guthrie, who put together rounds of 74 and 76 for a medalist-winning 150 tally.

More important for Whitman, the Missionaries filled the second through fifth spots on the leader board.

Kelly Sweeney, a sophomore out of Enumclaw, Wash., fired an 81 Monday and finished third overall with a two-round score of 160. Katie Zajicek, a junior from Corvallis, Ore., also shot 81 Monday and claimed fourth individually at 161. And senior Tate Head of Bellingham, Wash., recorded her second consecutive 81 for a 162 total and was tied with Whitworth’s Ashley Danforth for fifth place.

“It was great to see Whitman names in four of the top five spots,” Whitman coach Skip Molitor said. “And to have Catelyn, Kelly, Katie and Tate within four shots of each other was remarkable.

“The Spokane Country Club is a challenging course that plays to par-73. So it was an outstanding team effort have 81 be the highest score we had to count over the course of two days.”

Whitman’s other two entries in the tournament had their moments as well, Molitor noted.

Spokane product Alyssa Maine, the lone freshman on this year’s Missionary roster, shot 86 Monday after an impressive opening-round 79 and was in a three-way tie for eighth place at 165. And Caitlin Holland, a senior from Edgewood, Wash., carded an 82 Monday, four shots better than her opening-round 86, and tied for 13th place at 168

“Alyssa and Caitlin posted their best rounds of the year during this tournament,” the coach said. “So it was nice to see everyone playing well.”

Webber played both rounds of the tournament head-to-head against Whitworth’s Guthrie, who was an NCAA Division III qualifier a year ago.

“She continues to prepare herself to compete at the highest level of our conference,” Molitor said of Webber’s play.

“Kelly (Sweeney) hit the ball very well Monday but suffered an uncharacteristic number of three-putts,” he added. “And Katie (Zajicek) didn’t miss a beat after taking last weekend off and has not had a round above 82 so far this year.”

Whitman returns to action Saturday when it travels to Ridgefield, Wash., for what amounts to a practice round at the Tri-Mountain Golf Club. That course will be the site of the Northwest Conference Fall Classic, which is scheduled for Oct. 27-28 and will conclude the fall portion of the Missionaries’ schedule

The Fall Classic is important in that it counts towards the overall NWC championship along with the Spring Classic and the Northwest Conference Championships.

“This tournament concludes the most ambitious September we have played,” Molitor said of the Whitworth Invitational. “To go to Whitworth’s home course and to have them play some of their best golf of the fall and still come away with a convincing victory was a very nice accomplishment.”

Willamette finished third in the tournament team standings with a 674 score. The Bearcats were followed by Warner Pacific 718, Linfield 721, North Idaho College 367 and University of Puget Sound 871. Trinity Lutheran competed in the tournament but did not field a complete team.

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