The University of Victoria Vikes men’s golf team saved their best for last at the NAIA National Championship, shooting a tournament low team score of 285 on May 18 to vault up the leaderboard and finish in 10th place.
“Definitely a strong finish to the tournament and I am really proud of the guys play today,” said Vikes head coach Justin Clews. “We came to this event to compete for a win but our second round really deflated our chances. Proud of the guys for hanging in there and closing strong.”
That strong final round of 285 moved the Vikes all the way up from 16th to 10th, where they finished the tournament posting 1170 strokes overall.
Oklahoma City won the championship followed by Dalton State and Texas Wesleyan in second and third-place respectively.
The 10th-place finish for the Vikes was their sixth top-10 placing in their 10 trips to the national championship. After missing out on the tournament in 2017, the Vikes made a strong statement in their return to the pinnacle of NAIA golf.
Josh Miller was the catalyst for the Vikes strong final round. The second-year athlete from Victoria shot the lowest score of all competitors on the day with a four-under par 67. Miller ended his tournament by recording a birdie on four of his final eight holes.
“Josh was solid today,” said Clews. “He made a lot of up and downs on holes for par when he was in trouble and also made a bunch of birdies, one of which was a clutch chip-in on hole No. 6.”
Mike Griffin was the other standout on the day. In his final NAIA round as a Vike, Griffin shot a one-under par round of 70 which featured five birdies.
Griffin was the top finisher overall for the Vikes, improving his play each round with scores of 75, 73, 71 and 70 to place 26th. Hot on his heels was Miller. His round of 67 combined with consistent rounds of 75, 76 and 72 earned him 27th.
Lawren Rowe, a fourth-year Vike from Victoria, finished just one stroke behind Miller in 33rd after rounds of 70, 76, 71 and 74.
Jacob Hayes was never quite able to replicate his magnificent opening round of 69, but still finished well with rounds of 77, 81 and 77 to place 80th.
Rounding out the Vikes scoring was Bruce Tomie. In his final NAIA tournament with the Vikes, the fourth-year from Bedford, NS shot rounds of 81, 78, 80 and 74.
At the tournament, all five of the Vikes competing were named to the PING All-Region West Team for their outstanding play throughout the season.
“The five guys being named to the All-Region Team definitely shows the depth we have as a team this season,” said Clews. “Having three seniors (Griffin, Rowe and Tomie) helps for sure, but it is definitely a nice accomplishment for all players named.”
The Vikes won’t have to wait long to get back into action. They will immediately begin preparing for the Canadian University Championships hosted in Chilliwack, B.C. from May 29-June 1.
With the Vikes besting their Lower Mainland rivals from UBC by four strokes at the NAIA National Championship, momentum will be on their side as they search for their first Canadian title since 2006.
“Overall, we created some good momentum heading into Canadian Championships in Chilliwack coming up in just over a week.”
10th – VICTORIA (289-302-294-285: 1170)
26 – Mike Griffin (75-73-71-70: 289)
T27 – Josh Miller (75-76-72-67: 290)
T33 – Lawren Rowe (70-76-71-74: 291)
T80 – Jacob Hayes (69-77-81-77: 304)
89 – Bruce Tomie (81-78-80-74: 313)
PING ALL-REGION WEST TEAM
Matt Andrew, Embry Riddle (AZ)
Brandon Barnes, Lewis-Clark State
Samuel Eisenhuth, Master’s University
Mike Griffin, Victoria
Shaun Harpin, Lewis-Clark State
Andrew Harrison, British Columbia
Jacob Hayes, Victoria
Josh Miller, Victoria
Colton Murphy, Rocky Mountain
Zaahidali Nathu, British Columbia
Lawren Rowe, Victoria
Michael Tait, Rocky Mountain
Mitchell Thiessen, Rocky Mountain
Bruce Tomie, Victoria
Charles-David Trepanier, British Columbia