The University of the Fraser Valley golf teams put together one of the most comprehensively dominant performances in program history at the Cardinal Classic tournament in Burlington, Wash. this week.
In a 36-hole event hosted by Skagit Valley College at Avalon Golf Links, the Cascades won the men’s team competition by 29 strokes, and Kaleb Fisher was the individual medalist after outlasting teammates Zach Olson and Connor McLellan in a four-hole playoff.
Hannah Dirksen, UFV’s lone entrant on the women’s side, won individual medalist honours in similarly decisive fashion – her margin of victory over runners-up Stormie Follen (Skagit Valley) and Blake Greenup (Southwest Oregon) was 17 strokes.
“It was amazing,” Cascades head coach Chris Bertram said, reflecting on the sparkling showing. “We’ve been playing really well lately in our qualifiers and other tournaments. I’ve seen the potential starting to build, and it came together this week and it was awesome to see.”
The UFV men’s team was in spectacular form – five of the top six golfers in the individual standings were Cascades. Fisher, Olson and McLellan all finished at even par, while Nathan Bahnman and Cody Stewart ended up in a three-way tie for fourth at +5 for the tourney.
Fisher appeared to have a firm grip on the individual title, leading by three strokes as he stepped to the par-three 17th. But he carded a triple-bogey six to fall back into a tie with Olson and McLellan.
All three Cascades golfers made par on the first two playoff holes, and Fisher and Olson both made eagle on the third to eliminate McLellan. Fisher, a sophomore out of Abbotsford’s Yale Secondary, rolled in a six-foot par putt on the fourth playoff hole to lock up his first tournament win as a Cascade.
“It was really gutsy,” Bertram said of Fisher, who carded rounds of 70 and 74. “To feel like you’d thrown the tournament away and have to regroup and go out and play in a playoff, especially against two players who felt they had nothing to lose, is tough.
“But for him to grind and come away with the win says a lot about the work Kaleb’s been putting in the last two months. I’m really proud of the effort.”
Dirksen, the reigning PacWest individual champ and a 2015 CCAA All-Canadian, followed her win at last month’s Olympic College Invitational with another triumph at Avalon. Her one-under 71 in Sunday’s opening round was the best score of her career, and she followed with a solid 78 on Monday to finish +5 for the tournament.
Bertram noted that Dirksen’s round of 71 on Sunday was better than all but three scores on the men’s side (Fisher, Olson and McLellan all shot 70).
“Obviously she’s playing from a different tee, but that course is not as much about what you do off the tee, it’s about your play around the green,” he said. “Hannah had the best tournament of her collegiate career to date. Finishing under par on the first day on a tough course was a terrific accomplishment.”
The Cascades are back in action this weekend at the Southwest Oregon College Invitational at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. Their spring season culminates at the Canadian University/College Championship at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville, B.C. (May 31-June 3).