May 16, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State men's golf team concluded the 2011-12 season with its annual luncheon and golf scramble last week at Sunnyside Country Club. Head coach Mike Watney recapped the past season in which the Bulldogs finished third at the WAC Tournament and announced the team awards.
The first award announced was the John Sirman Bulldog WAC Medalist Award. Each year this award is given to the Bulldog with the best scoring at the WAC Championship. It was named after John and Dorothy Sirman, who last year established a $100,000 golf scholarship through a planned gift. John was a former Bulldog golf All-American. Sophomore Nate Jessup earned the John Sirman Award. Jessup opened with 70- and ended in eighth place at the tournament.
"Nate Jessup is the Arnold Palmer or Bubba Watson of the team," said Watney. "I think Bubba might be the closest. Besides his shear physical ability to crush a golf ball he has a lot of shots in the bag that most good players just don't have." The 2011-12 Outstanding Freshman Award went to Keenan Nelson. He finished in 31st at 17-over (82-75-76--233) at the WAC Championships.
"Keenan has made tremendous improvement since last year when he redshirted," Watney said. "He has three years remaining and if he continues to progress as he has, he will be an elite college player. I also think that his do-it-right attitude will also make him an outstanding golfer."
Junior Jack Mulroy was named the Most Improved golfer of the year. He was one of three Bulldogs to earn a top 10 finish at the WAC Championship. Mulroy joined Sunker in a tie for 10th at 6-over (71-76-75--222). He carded three birdies, including one on the par-4, 398-yard 16th, to record a 3-over, 75 on the final day.
"Jack is a self-motivated guy who will work hard," said Watney. "He has a lot of game and it started to show toward the end of the year. I'm looking forward to his senior season. His two best tournaments were the last two of the year and for that Jack wins our most improved award."
The Bulldog Legacy Award went to senior Brian Sunker. In his final collegiate tournament, Sunker carded a final round even-par, 72 which was the second-lowest score on the day. The low round moved him up 10 positions into a tie for 10th at 6-over (74-76-72--222).
"Brian came out strong in our first spring tournament," Watney said. "In fact, he just got better and better through the season. In the last two tournaments of his career he had a top five and a top ten and was significant in our win at the Winchester Classic. This young man is the model student athlete. Whatever he does he does with a great passion."
The top award of Most Outstanding Player went to Jessup and junior Rufie Fessler. Jessup finished at the WAC Tournament in the top spot for the 'Dogs for the second tournament in a row by tying for eighth at 5-over (70-74-77--221). This marked Jessup second top 10 finish of the season.
"Nate is gifted with extreme length, but he also hits it straight," said Watney. "As only a sophomore, Nate already has a 65 under his belt. This year he almost won his first tournament. He finished second in the Winchester Classic only one stroke behind the winner. I am confident that Nate will win multiple tournaments in his career."
Fessler shared the top honor of the afternoon as Co-Most Outstanding Player. He shot a 65 at Stanford, which was the best round by anyone in the tournament including a bunch of All-Americans. Fessler also shot a 3-over, 75 and tied for 14th at 8-over (72-77-75--224) on the final day of the WAC Championship.
"Rufie has a tremendous knack for lagging the ball close from great distances," Watney said. "Also, his touch out of bunkers is tour level. He led the team in under par rounds and shot four tournament rounds in the 60's. You can't hit it that good and putt it that good and not become a great player."
The annual luncheon ended with a scramble tournament, which included student-athletes, Fresno State staff and fans.
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