Burke, Pios sit in fourth after opening round of NWC Spring Classic

Burke, Pios sit in fourth after opening round of NWC Spring Classic

BREMERTON, Wash. -- Claire Burke's 8-over-par 80 led the way for the Lewis & Clark Pioneers during Saturday's opening round of the Northwest Conference Spring Classic at Gold Mountain Golf Club.

In her final try at the event, Burke, a senior, is fourth and one stroke back of second place and four behind first-round leader Shiyang Fan of Whitman.

"I felt really great about today and that had a lot to do with my putting," said Burke, whose 80 is her lowest first-round score since September's Pacific Invite. "Having consistent pars throughout the round helped my confidence and kept me going when I had a few dumb bogeys throughout the day."

The Pioneers are fourth in the team standings after a 342, six strokes behind Whitworth. With a 322, George Fox leads Whitman by one stroke for the tournament lead. Entering the tournament, which is the second of three that determine the NWC team champion, the Pios trailed George Fox by two championship points and Whitman by one.

Jane Almeida continued her strong spring play, finishing in a tie for ninth place with an 11-over-par 83. In stroke play, the sophomore has now shot 84 or lower in four of her last five rounds.

Arielle Valez is also in the top 20 after an 85. Like Burke, Valdez is a senior and in her final NWC Spring Classic and will enter the final round alone in 16th place.

Tori Eichten shot a 94 and Annie McCutchan posted a 96 to place 28th and 31st, respectively.

"The team knows today was an off day and we are ready to go out tomorrow and do much better," said Burke. The scores didn't seem fitting of the Pioneers, who have been as high as No. 24 in the Golfstat Relative NCAA Division III Rankings this season. Both Eichten and McCutchan shot their worst rounds all season.

All tee times are 8:30 a.m. in a simultaneous start on Sunday for the final round. Burke tees off with Jeankie Aczon of Pacific Lutheran and Briana Finau of Pacific on No. 15, the same hole Almeida goes off of with Madison LaVergne of PLU and Jennifer Andreas of Pacific.