Fitchett Lifts Saints To First-Ever GNAC Men’s Golf Title
Saint Martin's earned the GNAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division II West Regionals, which will also be played at The Home Course on May 6-8. Photo by Ron Smith.
Saint Martin's earned the GNAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division II West Regionals, which will also be played at The Home Course on May 6-8. Photo by Ron Smith.
Tyler Fitchett
Tyler Fitchett

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

DUPONT, Wash. – There’s a first for everything.

The Saint Martin’s men’s golf program claimed its first-ever GNAC title on Tuesday at The Home Course in DuPont, Washington, edging out Western Washington by two strokes with a final three-round score of 875.

Senior Tyler Fitchett entered the final round atop the leaderboard at 3-under-par and never looked back, shooting 73 in the third round to finish the tournament at 2-under-par 214. He became just the second Saint Martin’s player to earn medalist honors at the GNAC Championships, following Hiro Nezu in 2008.

"It's still a little hard to describe," Fitchett said. "Just the joy of being out here. It's always fun to win individually, of course, but this is the first team win I've been a part of. To be able to come off the 18th green and give big hugs to my teammates because we all won. It's indescribable. You can't put it into words."

The front nine were Fitchett’s safe haven. Of his 13 birdies in the tournament, 10 came in the front nine. He also had a clean back nine in the final round with seven pars and a pair of birdies.

"I didn't play my best and it was a little bit of a grind out there," Fitchett said. "I told myself to stay aggressive. I did a good job of grinding away and making sure that people were going to have to come chase me instead of me dropping back to the field."

Juniors Jordan Terada and Max Turnquist stayed on pace with the rest of the field to help keep the Saints alive in their chase for title No. 2. Terada finished tied for fourth place at 4-over-par 220 while Turnquist carded 5-over-par 221 to tie for sixth.

"The past week, we've been talking about winning this," Fitchett said. "We tried to rise to the occasion. Coach has been in our ear, talking about how these opportunities only come around every so often. To be able to do it here in our backyard is amazing. We'll obviously enjoy this for now, but in the next few days, we'll definitely start looking ahead to regionals."

Western Washington finished just short of winning back-to-back titles despite a strong outing in the final round. The Vikings turned in a third-round score of 282 to finish in second place at 877.

Freshman Drew Halili led the Vikings with a second-place finish at 1-over-par 217. He had two birdies in the third round and shot even-par in all back nine holes. Sophomore Jordan Lee carded 1-under-par 71 in the final round to tie for fourth place with Terada at 4-over-par 220.

Montana State Billings finished 12 shots back at 887 to place third. The Yellowjackets’ third-round score of 293 was their best round of the tournament.

After a bogey on the first hole, senior Garrett Woodin stormed back to finish at 1-under-par 71 in the final round. He finished two shots back of Halili at 3-over-par 219 to lead the Yellowjackets with a third-place finish.

Northwest Nazarene rounded out the field in fourth place at 902. It was the Nighthawks’ best round by 18 strokes. Sophomore Cole Evarts was NNU’s top performer. He finished in a four-way tie for eighth place at 7-over-par 223.

With the victory, Saint Martin’s is the GNAC’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division II West Regionals, which will take place at The Home Course on May 6-8. The rest of the conference field will await the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf selection show on Friday.