Bulldogs Celebrate Season at Men's Golf Banquet

May 9, 2013

By Elly Walker

FRESNO, Calif. -- The Fresno State men's golf team celebrated both individual and team efforts over the 2012-13 season with family, friends, administration, and alumni at the annual awards banquet on Thursday, May 9th.

The crowd gathered at Sunnyside Country Club in Fresno, Calif. and reminisced on the many accomplishments made throughout the year and recognized head coach Mike Watney on his 35 years of service to Fresno State.

Among the alumni were former Bulldog golfers including David and Kevin Sutherland, Tim Norris, Chad Spencer, and Todd Hansen. Their appearance was a surprise to Watney, but alumni sought to join family, friends, and administration in honoring Watney and his 2012-13 team.

As a team, the 'Dogs competed in twelve tournaments including their only match play tournament of the season, the Cal Poly Match Play Championship, and the Mountain West Championship.

At the Mountain West Championship, the Bulldogs battled MW foes to card 882 on the tournament. The 'Dogs recorded their best score of the tournament by firing 290 in the final round of the three-day tournament. The 'Dogs took sixth place and had two Bulldogs place in the top-20.

In the middle of their spring season, the Bulldogs took fire and brought home two consecutive second place finishes at the Fresno State Lexus Classic and the Bandon Dunes Championship. In the Fresno State Lexus Classic, the Bulldogs rolled eight birdies over the final four holes to finish the tournament six-under par, just behind No. 1 ranked Cal.

The Bulldogs then traveled to Bandon Dunes, Ore. and fired three-over par to finish ahead of top-25 ranked Washington and UCLA. At Bandon Dunes Championship, freshman Troix Tonkham took the tournament crown and senior Rufie Fessler trailed Tonkham by three strokes to take second place.

The Bulldogs finished in the top-10 of seven tournaments and in the top-five of three tournaments throughout the season. In tournaments counting four scores, the Bulldogs recorded a 291.63 team stroke average and a low round score of 272, which they carded at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational. On the season, the 'Dogs finished sixth among the conference with three Bulldogs in the top-30.

In acknowledging individual players, head coach Mike Watney honored Fessler as the Bulldog's MVP. Throughout the season, Fessler carded five rounds in the 60s and shot 74 or less in 23 rounds. Fessler led the Bulldogs with 115 birdies and a 72.64 stroke average, which placed him in 11th place among the conference.

Tonkham was named Most Outstanding Player. The lone freshman led the team with 11 rounds under par and had four wins over top-20 nationally ranked players. Tonkham also received Freshman of the Year and was acknowledged by Watney as the best freshman in his 35 years of coaching. In his first collegiate season, Tonkham finished 24th among the Mountain West Conference with a 73.82 average.

Junior Nate Jessup was honored with the Bulldog Legacy Award. Jessup's best round performance came when he recorded six birdies in a row to card 30 over nine holes. On the season, Jessup made 104 birdies and led the team with four eagles.

Senior Johnny Partridge was awarded Most Improved Player. In the third round of the Fresno State Lexus Classic, Partridge's eagle on the 12th hole was the first shot that began a landslide of birdies to propel the 'Dogs into second place. Partridge finished in to the top-30 of two tournaments and holds a 75.38 stroke average. At the Western Intercollegiate Partridge fired an eagle on his last hole of round one to record 67, his lowest score of the season.

Senior Jack Mulroy was honored with the John Sirman Award and was named Bulldog Scholar Athlete. The John Sirman Award is given to the best scoring Bulldog at the conference championship. Mulroy fired two consecutive 70s to finish the Mountain West Championship in a tie for 10th place at one-over par. Mulroy was also acknowledged for his 3.6 GPA in the fall semester, which allowed him to achieve Dean's List honors. Mulroy closed out his collegiate career in 27th place among the Mountain West conference with a 73.90 average.

In addition to celebrating team and individual efforts throughout the season, Fessler, Partridge, Mulroy, and Rich Gilkey were honored as seniors and thanked for the commitment and leadership they brought to the team.

Along with the many honors acknowledged at the banquet, the Mountain West announced conference awards and those named to All-Conference team, which included Fessler. In addition to being named All-Conference Team, Fessler's collegiate career has yet come to a close, as he will represent Fresno State at the NCAA West Regional on May 16-18 in Tempe, Ariz.

The following awards represent each honor announced by the Mountain West.

Golfer of the Year James Erkenbeck, Sr., New Mexico

Freshman of the Year Riccardo Michelini, San Diego State

Coach of the Year Glen Millican, New Mexico

All-Conference Team Kyle Westmoreland, Jr., Air Force Taeksoo Kim, Sr., Boise State Rufie Fessler, Sr., Fresno State John Catlin, Sr., New Mexico James Erkenbeck, Sr., New Mexico Gavin Green, So., New Mexico Victor Perez, So., New Mexico Tom Berry, Sr., San Diego State Xander Schauffele, So., San Diego State Kevin Penner, Sr., UNLV