Birdie Barrage Lifts 'Dogs into Second at Lexus

March 5, 2013

By Elly Walker & @StephenTrembley

FRESNO, Calif. --- The Fresno State men's golf team made a furious late charge Tuesday to secure a second-place finish in its 50th Annual Fresno State Lexus Classic at Belmont Country Club.

The Bulldogs shot six-under par (361-355-358---1074) during the two-day tournament and two-under par for the day in the 17-school field.

"I am very happy with the team, especially the way the guys finished," head coach Mike Watney said. "We had slipped back to fifth and then we battled back to overtake BYU."

Fresno State overcame its rough start, where Bulldogs' freshman Troix Tonkham bogeyed once and Rufie Fessler double bogeyed twice on the front nine, by delivering a strong back nine and rolled in eight birdies over the final four holes. The birdie barrage moved the 'Dogs out of fourth and into second.

Tonkham (68-73-72---213) birdied five times in the third round, three of which were made consecutively from holes 14- 15, and 16. In the Classic, he shot three-under par, 213 and finished in a tie for ninth place.

"All six guys at some point in this tournament shot a really good score," Watney said of his team. "Troix was our star this week and he is an exciting guy to watch in the future as he is only a freshman. He is going to do alot in college golf and maybe in the future as a pro."

Johnny Partridge, the Bulldogs' sixth man in the lineup, carded a 69 (-3) in the final round - just two strokes off the day's lowest score shot by medalist Michael Kim from California, who is also ranked No. 2 nationally. Partridge finished in a tie for 17th, improving 17 spots from where he entered the day, Partridge eagled on the 12th hole and made three birdies in round three.

"For our sixth man to do perform so well is outstanding," Watney said of Partridge. "This kind of play is how teams win."

Rufie Fessler shot one-over par, 217 (72-74-71), and tied for 25th place, aided by four birdies in round three.

No. 1 ranked Cal led the tournament at 43-under par, 1037 (346-348-343).

This year, the Fresno State Lexus Classic celebrated 50 years and was the last home tournament for Watney, who has coached at Fresno State for 35 years and will retire following the 2013 season.

"I walk away with a good feeling that the tournament went very well," said Watney on his last tournament. "The weather was beautiful, the competition was good and my team played well, so I couldn't be any happier."