WALLA WALLA — Depth paid off for Whitman College Sunday at the Wine Valley Golf Club.
Lewis-Clark State College’s Heather Bruce and Brooke Dagner claimed the top two places individually, and a pair of Whitworth Pirates finished in a four-way tie for third place. But it was the host Missionaries who ran away to an 11-stroke team triumph in the school’s Easter Invitational women’s golf tournament.
Led by Catelyn Webber and Elaine Whaley, the Missionaries posted a 627 team score for its top four individual scores over 36 holes and finished comfortably in front of Lewis-Clark State’s 638 count.
Whitworth finished third at 653, Lewis & Clark College was fourth at 685 and the University of Puget Sound was fifth and last at 778.
The tournament began Saturday at Veterans Memorial Golf Course with the Missionaries posting a 317 score for the slimmest of leads in the team standings. LCSC was just a stroke back at 318 and Whitworth was within seven shots after posting a 324 score.
But Whitman was clearly the superior team on Wine Valley’s undulating fairways and tricky greens. The Missionaries’ 310 score Sunday was 10 shots better than the Warriors and 19 ahead of Whitworth.
Webber and Whaley matched 36-hole scores of 157 and joined Whitworth’s Nicole Lomax and Michael Schuster in a four-way tie for third place. And unlike the two Pirates, who were unable to improve upon their first-round scores, Webber and Whaley did just that.
Webber fired a 5-over-par 77 Sunday at Wine Valley after a first-round 80 at Vets. And Whaley scored 78 Sunday, a one-shot improvement over her first-round 79.
Lomax followed up an opening-round 78 with a closing 79 and Schuster went from 75 to 82.
Whitman’s depth showed up on the next rung of the individual ladder as Alyssa Maine and Katie Zajicke tied for seventh place at 159. And like Webber and Whaley, their scores improved on Sunday.
Maine fired a 78 Sunday after shooting 79 at Vets. And Zajicek improved from an opening-round 82 to a closing score of 77.
Whitman’s fifth player, Lou Points, shot a non-counting 85 Sunday at Wine Valley. But she was needed Saturday at Vets as she opened the tournament with a 5-over-par 77 and finished the 36-hole event with a 162 score that was good for 10th place in the field of 33.
L-C State’s Bruce recorded the best score of the tournament with a 3-under-par 69 Saturday at Vets, a score that gave her a six-shot lead over Schuster going into Sunday’s round. But Bruce could do no better than a 78 Sunday at Wine Valley and finished at 147, still good enough for a nine-shot win over teammate Dagner, who had rounds of 80 and 76 for a 156 score.
Whitman coach Skip Molitor was excited about his team’s strong performance on Sunday.
“This was our best round of the spring,” Molitor said. “It gets us back into that national score level.”
And having all five of his players among the top 10 individually was a good sign heading into the Northwest Conference Championships this coming weekend in Woodburn, Ore., Molitor indicated.
“Elaine’s scores were very encouraging,” he said of Whaley. “We had a freshman (Points) up with the leaders after Saturday but she may have put a little too much pressure on herself (Sunday). But the best part of the weekend was that we had four others jump up with a pair of 77s and 78s to finish off the drive to the team title.”
A sixth Missionary, Kelly Sweeney, played as an independent in her first two 18-hole rounds of the spring coming back from an injury. Sweeney shot 87 at Memorial and then improved five shots with an 82 at Wine Valley.
“Putting up an 87 Saturday then coming back with an 82 Sunday on a really difficult course is just fantastic,” Molitor said of Sweeney’s performance.