RICHLAND, Wash. – George Fox's Kelsey Morrison has a three stroke lead for individual medalist honors, but Whitman holds a one-stroke edge over fifth-ranked George Fox after the opening round of the 2012 Northwest Conference Women's Golf Tournament on Saturday at Columbia Point Golf Course.
Morrison shot a two-over round of 74 to take a three stroke lead. But the Missionary pair of Tate Head and Catelyn Webber had first-round scores of 77. Whitworth's Emily Guthrie and Whitman's Kelly Sweeney both shot 78.
The first round team scores are: Whitman 317, George Fox 318, Whitworth 333, Linfield 343, Willamette 358, Pacific (Ore.) 365, Pacific Lutheran 382, Puget Sound 423 and Lewis & Clark incomplete.
The conditions were favorable for lower scores at Columbia Point and seven different players posted rounds of 80 or better.
Elaine Whaley was Whitman's fourth scorer on Saturday with a round of 85. With three individuals among the top five players, the Missionaries have positioned themselves to win the tournament and force a tie atop the final NWC standings with George Fox. If that should happen, Whitman would gain the league's automatic bid to the NWC tournament based on the tiebreaker of winning the final tournament.
Abby Mann (79), Megan McGrew (81) and Jill Westendorf (84) were the scoring players for the highly-ranked Bruins on Saturday.
Host Whitworth got a strong round from Nicole Lomax (80) in addition to Guthrie's 78. Elizabeth Martin (84) is tied for 11th and Darby Moberg (91) is tied for 25th.
Alexandria Smith (82) was the top player for Linfield, while Nicole Smith (87) and Mckenzie Weinhold (87) topped Willamette. Emily Thorud (84) had the best round of the day for Pacific and Kristina Norlin (90) topped Pacific Lutheran's list. Ev Grier (98) was the leader for UPS.
The teams will complete the tournament with Sunday's second round. The first group will tee off at 9:04 a.m.