Warriors struggle at McCormick Woods

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PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — NWAACC golfers got a taste for something different here Sunday and Monday during a league tournament at McCormick Woods.

“They had the course set up more like they would for a (NCAA) Division I tournament,” Walla Walla coach Mike Rostollan said. “It was extra long, and it gave our men and women the chance to see what it would be like to play at the next level.”

And other than Spokane’s Evan Omelia, who carved out a pair of sub-par rounds on the wooded, rolling par-72 layout, scores reflected the course’s difficult configuration.

Omelia shot a 2-under-par 70 in the wind on Sunday and came back with a 1-under 71 Monday for a 3-under-par 141 score for 36 holes. He finished eight shots in front of runnerup Keynan Fanslow of Olympic, who put together rounds of 76 and 73 for a 149 final total.

Led by Omelia, Spokane also won the men’s team championship with a 606 score for its top four players over 36 holes, which was 30 shots more than par. It was another 20 shots back to second-place Spokane, which carded 626 over two days of play.

Walla Walla had to settle for sixth place in the nine-school field. The Warriors scored 326 Sunday and 325 Monday for a 651 count that was 75 strokes more than par and 45 strokes behind Spokane.

“None of the guys were able to figure out how to play that golf course,” Rostollan said of his men’s team. “It’s a course carved out of old-growth timber way back when, very tight and very soft turf because of all of the rain they’ve had. It played extra long.”

It was particularly difficult for the women’s teams, Rostollan noted.

Columbia Basin took the team championship with a 519 score for its top three players, which was 87 strokes over par. Hope Neidhold of the Hawks shot rounds of 82 and 83 for a 165 total to claim individual medalist honors, finishing 21 strokes over par and seven strokes ahead of Olympic’s Leslie Guzman.

“You heard a lot of complaints from the girls,” Rostollan said. “It was way longer than what they normally play. It was long and tight and there were a lot of balls lost in the water.”

Walla Walla had just one entry on the women’s side. Kelsey Bigness shot rounds of 95 and 93 for a 188 tally that gave her a share of seventh place in the field of 31 women.

“Kelsey had a couple of big-number holes or she would easily have found herself in all-conference company,” Rostollan said of Bigness.

Grant Geelan led the WWCC men with rounds of 81 and 79. His 160 score for 36 holes left him in a six-way tie for 14th place, 19 strokes off the pace.

Eli Mendez posted an 80 Monday, a three-stroke improvement over his opening-round score, and totaled 163 for a share of 22nd place in the field of 54 men. Bradley Young followed up a first-round 82 with an second-round 84 and tied for 25th place at 166.

The Warriors other three entries — Mason Palmer, Tannen Potter and Dordan Daline — finished in an eight-player logjam for 27th place at 168. Palmer picked up his game Monday with an 82 after posting 86 on Sunday, but Potter and Daline went in the other direction, shooting 86 and 87, respectively, in Monday’s second round.

The tournament was the third of four regular-season league affairs for the NWAACC players, following last fall’s tournament at Horn Rapids in West Richland and an early spring get together at the Highlander Golf Course near Chelan, Wash. The fourth and final league event is slated May 11-12 in Bandon, Ore.

“We’re down the list as far as the regular season is concerned,” Rostollan said of his team’s place in the league standings. “We are now looking ahead to the conference championships.”

The season-ending NWAACC Championships will be played May 18-19 at Horn Rapids.

Walla Walla resumes its season this coming Sunday and Monday when it travels to the west side to participate in an invitational tournament hosted by Skagit Valley. The event will be played at the Avalon Golf Links in Mount Vernon, Wash., where the Warriors will be hoping to shake off the aftereffects of a lost weekend in McCormick Woods.

“That was just more golf course than I had golfers,” Rostollan said of McCormick Woods. “I think that was the case for the whole field, other than that one kid from Spokane. Hat’s off to him.”

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