Willamette Men's Golf Gears up for Season

Kukula looks to build on NWC Fall Classic victory

By John Lind, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's golf team will kick off its spring season this weekend when the Bearcats host the Willamette Invitational at their home course, Illahe Hills Country Club. The event will be the first of five tournaments the men's team will participate in this season, culminating with the Northwest Conference Championships over the weekend of April 20-21.

With only one upperclassman on the team, the Bearcats are young but show promise to learn quickly. Five of the nine golfers on the roster are freshmen, and will play a large part on the team.

"We're excited to get the season going," Head Coach Noah Horstman said. "It will be exciting to see what we can do as a team."

Willamette will be largely aided by the presence of Ryan Kukula (So., Ocean Park, WA/Ilwaco HS). Kukula is coming off a big win last fall at the NWC Fall Classic, where he shot a two-under 142 to take top honors for the first time in his collegiate career.

On top of Kukula's win, the rest of the Bearcat men's team performed well at the Fall Classic, particularly on the second day. Willamette placed sixth in the team standings, and four golfers on the team carded scores in the 70s, finishing with a second day total of 298.

Horstman said that the team's goal was to finish in the top four in the NWC this season, and to gain experience looking forward.

This season's tournaments will take the Bearcats to locations such as Aloha, Ore., Banks, Ore., and Bremerton, Wash. Willamette will host the NWC Championships at the Oregon Golf Association (OGA) Golf Course in Woodburn, Ore.

The Willamette Invitational is scheduled to start Saturday, March 2 at 1 p.m. (PST). Play will continue with the second 18 holes on Sunday. The men's team will compete this weekend against squads from Pacific University, Linfield College, and Oregon State University.

Ryan Kukula took first place at the NWC Fall Classic.

Ryan Kukula took first place at the NWC Fall Classic.