Willamette to Host NWC Men's Golf Championship Tournament

Kukula in Contention for NWC Golfer of the Year Honors

By John Lind, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

WOODBURN, ORE. -- Teams from all across the Northwest Conference will converge on OGA Golf Course to end the spring men's golf season with the NWC Championship Tournament this weekend. Players will tee off on Saturday, April 20 beginning at 11 a.m. (PDT), and play will continue through Sunday, April 21. Willamette University is hosting the tournament.

Although the event is titled the "NWC Championship Tournament," the team champion and the All-Conference Team for the 2012-13 competition year are not determined solely by this weekend's tournament. After the NWC Championship Tournament concludes, the results will be compiled with results from two other tournaments - the NWC Fall Classic and the NWC Spring Classic - in order to determine most of the awards.

The NWC Fall Classic and the NWC Spring Classic are each worth one-fourth of the overall team title. Teams received between eight points (first place) and no score (ninth place) at the NWC Fall Classic and the NWC Spring Classic based on where they placed. For the NWC Championship Tournament, teams will be scored on a 16-point scale.

Whitworth University is one of the favorites to win the team title this weekend. The Pirates are currently in first place in team the standings with 16 points after handily winning both the Fall Classic and the Spring Classic.

Two other contenders in the men's team race are Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound.

The Lutes finished third in the Fall Classic, but improved to finish second in the Spring Classic just eight strokes behind the Pirates. PLU currently sits in second place in the season standings with 13 points. The Loggers finished second in the Fall Classic and fourth in the Spring Classic for a total of 12 points. Linfield College is fourth with 10.5 points overall.

Willamette currently sits in sixth place in the season team standings. The Bearcats finished sixth in the Fall Classic, but improved to fifth in the Spring Classic.

Although Willamette isn't considered a strong contender to win the team title, Bearcat sophomore Ryan Kukula (Ocean Park, WA/Ilwaco HS) is one of the favorites in the individual competition to win the NWC Championship Tournament. He is in the among the leaders for the Golfer of the Year Award.

This season, Kukula won both the Fall Classic and the Spring Classic. He also won the Pacific Spring Invitational, and has not finished any lower than second place during the spring.

Kukula is one of the favorites, but he will likely be tested by some tough competition. Whitworth's Jesse Salzwedel placed second to Kukula in the Fall Classic and the Spring Classic, missing first place by only one stroke in both tournaments.

Joey DeGroff, also of Whitworth, tied for second at the Spring Classic. DeGroff finished in a tie for sixth place last spring at the 2012 NWC Championship Tournament. PLU's Dustin Hegge, who is the top returning finisher from last year's NWC Championship Tournament (third place), placed third in the Fall Classic and was only four shots back (eighth place) in the Spring Classic.

The results from the NWC Championship Tournament will help determine which golfers qualify for the All-NWC Team for 2012-13. As with the the team standings, the All-NWC Team will be determined by a point system that weighs the Fall and Spring Classics at one-fourth each and the NWC Championship Tournament at one-half.

When points are added from this weekend's competition, the top six finishers will be named First Team All-NWC, and the golfers finishing seventh through 12th will be chosen Second Team All-NWC. The golfer who accumulates the most points will be named NWC Golfer of the Year. Hegge from PLU was the Golfer of the Year in 2011-12.

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Northwest Conference
Championship Tournament
OGA Golf Course
Woodburn, Ore.
April 20-21, 2013

Ryan Kukula from Willamette won the 2012 NWC Fall Classic and the 2013 NWC Spring Classic.

Ryan Kukula from Willamette won the 2012 NWC Fall Classic and the 2013 NWC Spring Classic.