Abbotsford/Kelowna – The University of the Fraser Valley golf teams launched their fall competition schedule in Kelowna this weekend, highlighted by chart-topping performances from Kyle Claggett, Eli Greene, and the Cascades men’s squad.
With the Canada West golf championships recently cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions (out-of-province sports teams are not permitted to travel to B.C.), the Cascades have joined forces with the UBC Thunderbirds and UBC Okanagan Heat to create the BC Rivalry Series. The series will consist of eight single-day tournaments during the fall semester, with the hope of scheduling an additional 12 events in the spring of 2021. The Victoria Vikes may also join the series at a later juncture, but did not compete this weekend.
Teams earn standings points based on their order of finish, with men’s and women’s team champions to be crowned at the conclusion of the series in the spring. There is also an individual aggregate competition, with golfers accruing order of merit points.
This weekend featured single-day tourneys on Saturday and Sunday at the Okanagan Golf Club (Bear Course), which had been originally scheduled to host the CW championships on those same dates.
On the men’s side, UBC finished atop Saturday’s leaderboard with a combined score of 290, ahead of UFV (296) and UBCO (299). Claggett’s round of 71 paced the Cascades, and was good for third overall, trailing only UBC’s Ethan de Graaf (68) and Miguel Cullum (70). Ben Whiton (74), Jacob Armstrong (75), Greene (76) and Jackson Jacob (77) also chipped in for UFV.
The Cascades bounced back with a strong Sunday showing, winning with a combined score of 290, well ahead of UBC (298) and UBCO (301). Veteran Claggett and rookie Greene led the way, firing matching rounds of even-par 72. The UFV duo was part of a three-way tie for first place in the individual standings with UBCO’s Justin Towill. Whiton and Armstrong were both one shot back at 73.
“The first day, I thought we were all right,” Cascades men’s head coach Aaron Pauls analyzed. “But we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds – three-putting, poor decisions, and it wasn’t our best day. Today we did a bit better, playing for a larger margin for error on certain holes. On the whole, it was a really solid performance for our team.”
Claggett is the early leader in the men’s order of merit standings with 173.3 points, ahead of UBC’s de Graaf (150) and UFV teammate Greene (128.3).
“Kyle’s come a long way over his years here,” Pauls said. “Early on, if he didn’t have his A or B+ game, he’d be in the 76 to 80 range. Kyle didn’t play that well today, and he wasn’t at his best on the back nine yesterday, but he was able to put together good scores both days. That’s big-time.
“And Eli’s been a steady guy for us. He never takes on too much on any given golf shot, and he has a really steady demeanor.”
On the women’s side, the team standings played out the same both days, with UBC finishing ahead of UBCO and UFV in that order. On Saturday, the Thunderbirds posted a team score of 224 to outdistance the Heat (236) and Cascades (242), with UBC’s Sonja Tang posting the low individual score of the day at 74. Lucy Park (79) provided UFV’s best individual round, followed by Alex Brunner (80), Emery Bardock (83) and Avery Biggar (94).
Sunday’s round saw UBC prevail with a score of 225, ahead of UBCO (233) and UFV (250). The Heat’s Kayleigh Trowman fired a 73 for the individual win. UFV was led once again by Park (80), followed by Bardock (82), Brunner (88) and Biggar (98).
Park’s 100 order of merit points are good for seventh place overall.
“Not what we’d hoped for, but we had three university golf debuts this weekend (Park, Brunner and Biggar), so a few nerves came out,” analyzed UFV women’s coach Cody Stewart. “We gained a lot of experience from this – we’ll digest it and learn from it. We’ll put it into practice next week, and we’ll be ready to go for the next one.”
Stewart noted that it’s “a privilege” to be competing with fellow universities in the midst of the pandemic.
“We’re fortunate to have this chance to get some reps in,” he said. “There’s a lot of pride, and the athletes are really competitive. It’s going to be a fun year.”
Up next, the teams will play single-day tourneys at Sandpiper Golf Course (Harrison Mills) and Mayfair Lakes (Richmond) on Oct. 14 and 15, respectively.