The Fresno State men’s golf team began its spring season on Monday in San Diego at the Farms Collegiate Invitational.
This is also the beginning of Coach Mike Watney’s last season as the team’s head coach, who will retire at the end of the season.
The fall season was rough on the Bulldogs, as they had two eighth place finishes, a fourth-place finish, and an eleventh place finish in the four tournaments in which they competed. Their best placement came in their first tournament of the year at the St. Mary’s College Invitational in September.
Notable tournaments for Fresno State this spring season are the Fresno State Lexus Golf Classic and the Bandon Dunes Championship.
The Lexus Golf Classic will be a chance for the Bulldogs to host a tournament and avoid travel. That competition will be at Belmont Country Club on March 4-5. The Bandon Dunes Championship will be the only out of state competition for the team this spring season before the Mountain West Championship, as they travel north to Oregon. Bandon Dunes also falls just days after the Lexus Golf Classic, landing on March 8-10.
In May, the Bulldogs will compete in their first Mountain West Championship where they will travel to Tuscon, Ariz.
Currently, Fresno State’s ranking places them in the middle of the conference. Based off ranking provided by Golfweek on the Mountain West website, the Bulldogs find themselves behind New Mexico, who ranks number 3 in the NCAA; No. 40 University of Nevada, Las Vegas; No. 59 San Diego State; and No. 64 Colorado State. The Bulldogs are ranked 101st in the NCAA and No. 5 in the conference.
While the season has not gone entirely as planned for the Bulldogs, three players have found themselves ranked in the top 20 golfers in the Mountain West. Senior Rufie Fessler and junior Nate Jessup are tied for sixth place, while freshman Troix Tonkham slipped in at No. 19.
At the end of the season Watney will be leaving open a position that has not been vacant for 35 years.
Angie Cates-Moore, head coach of the women’s golf team and Watney’s colleague since 2004, said that he was a big help in allowing the men’s and women’s teams to coexist.
“He was on the hiring committee that brought me in,” she said. “I came here nine and a half years ago to start a women’s golf team and Coach Watney was so supportive, because really we came in and forever it was just the men’s team.
“They got to play wherever they wanted. They didn’t have to share any of their facilities.
“He was more than willing to accommodate a women’s team coming in and has been so supportive of us for all these years. He’s been a huge support for me and just been a really great friend and person to work with. I’m going to miss him a lot. It’s going to be different.”