Tremendous performances from Hannah Dirksen and Connor O’Dell highlighted the University of the Fraser Valley golf program’s collective showing at their home tournament, the UFV Invitational, held at Chilliwack Golf Club this weekend.
Dirksen, a second-year Cascade from Mission, B.C., came into the fourth and final PacWest conference tournament trailing Carolyn Lee of the UBC Okanagan Heat by five strokes for top spot in the women’s cumulative season standings. She erased that gap, carding rounds of 83 and 76 to win the tournament by three strokes over Lee’s UBCO teammate Lauren Siemers. Lee finished fourth on the weekend, nine strokes back of Dirksen, who claimed the PacWest overall title by a four-stroke margin.
Derksen’s triumph extends the streak of UFV women winning the PacWest individual title to three straight years. Dani Shap won it in 2013, and Jen Woods was the 2014 champ.
“It feels great to be the PacWest champion,” Derksen enthused afterward. “I didn’t really expect to come out here today and win, just to go out and play my best. Today was a really good day, and I just felt great. I can’t stop smiling.”
O’Dell was triumphant on the men’s side this weekend to give UFV a sweep of the individual titles at their home tourney. The fourth-year Cascade from Maple Ridge, B.C. shot an even-par 71 on Saturday and a two-under 69 on Sunday to win by three strokes over Steven Hayes of the Douglas Royals. UFV’s Cody Stewart and Brady Stead of the Camosun Chargers tied for fourth place, four back of O’Dell.
O’Dell became the second Cascade to win a men’s tourney title this season – Zach Olson won the KPU Invitational two weeks ago – and his strong finish allowed him to claim second place in the overall individual standings. He accrued 576 strokes over the course of the season, four back of Stead. Hayes was third at 577, while Olson (592) was seventh overall and UFV’s Stewart and Connor McLellan were tied for 10th at 604.
“It was key knowing the golf course,” O’Dell analyzed. “I’ve probably played it 100 times in the past couple years. I know all the nuances of the course – I know where to hit it and not to hit it, and my golf game is getting better. The last couple weeks I’ve played well, and hopefully it leads into nationals.”
For the first time in three seasons, the Cascades did not earn a PacWest team banner. The UFV men were three-time defending conference champs and the women were coming off back-to-back titles, but they ceded their PacWest crowns to the Camosun Chargers and UBC Okanagan Heat, respectively.
Camosun won the overall men’s team title with 2,318 combined strokes over four tournaments, besting UFV (2,372) and UBCO (2,414).
The UBCO women (1,314) edged the Cascades (1,349) to earn the women’s team banner.
Both the Chargers men and the Heat women won the team events at the UFV Invitational, with the Cascades again finishing second in both divisions.
“It was windy out here this weekend, and for both Hannah and Connor to step up and deliver the individual performances that they did is really impressive,” Cascades head coach Chris Bertram summarized. “There was pressure on them coming in, with it being our home course and our home tournament. I think both of them knew that eyes were going to be on them, and they both stepped up and played some of the best golf I’ve seen out of them all year.
“I’m really proud of both of them, and hopefully it’s a performance we can build on with the national championships right around the corner.”
Indeed, the PING CCAA Golf National Championships are fast approaching – that event runs Oct. 13-16 at Chilliwack Golf Club. It will be UFV’s first time hosting the CCAA golf nationals.
— Chris Bertram (@chrisbertram12) October 4, 2015
The PacWest awards were handed out at the conclusion of play on Sunday. Men’s conference all-stars (the top five overall finishers) were Stead, O’Dell, Hayes, James Casorso of UBCO, and Grant Maskiewich of Camosun. Women’s all-stars (the top three finishers) were Dirksen, Lee and Siemers.
Stead and Dirksen were honoured as the PacWest male and female players of the year, respectively, while Gert Van Niekerk of the Douglas Royals was voted coach of the year.
For more photos from the UFV Invitational (action and awards) visit flickr.com/ufvcascades.