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Connor McLellan breaks through at national golf championship

The Chilliwack native led the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades to fourth place at the Canadian University/College Championship.

UFV golfer Connor McLellan finished in phenomenal fashion at the Canadian University/College Championship, rallying to claim the men’s individual bronze medal.

The Chilliwack native fired a four-under 68 during Friday’s final round at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville, B.C. to move to -5 for the tournament, trailing only Scott Secord of the UBC Thunderbirds (-11) and Lawren Rowe of the UVic Vikes (-7). The sophomore became the second Cascade to win an individual medal at the Golf Canada-sanctioned event, joining fellow Chilliwackian Aaron Pauls, who won bronze in 2015.

McLellan had an inauspicious start to the week – he opened with a four-over 76 during Tuesday’s opening round, but steadied himself with a one-over 73 on Wednesday. He finished in torrid fashion – his 66 on Thursday was the low round of the week, and his 68 on Friday was the low round of the day.

“I really didn’t have any pressure on me after the last two days, so I kind of got to go out there and free-wheel and make some birdies,” McLellan explained afterward. “Putts just started to go in on the third day. It was hard to miss the hole – it was one of those days where everything goes in. It was a confidence boost, and you just ride the momentum from there.

“It was a storybook ending, I guess.”

Cascades head coach Chris Bertram called the bronze medal a “tremendous accomplishment” for McLellan.

“Finishing these last two days at 10 under par in some really tough conditions says a lot about the kind of talent he has as a golfer,” Bertram noted.

In the team competition, the Cascades men were in search of their first-ever medal at the Golf Canada event and began the day in third place, but fell to fourth after posting their highest combined score of the week (310). They ended up at +49, trailing the UBC Thunderbirds (-18), Victoria Vikes (+27) and Queen’s Golden Gaels (+41).

It’s the third time in seven years that the Cascades have finished in fourth place (they were also fourth in 2010 and 2015). For the second straight year, they were the top-finishing CCAA team in the 20-team field, and one of three to make the 10-team cut – the Camosun Chargers (+51, fifth overall) and Niagara College Knights (+63, sixth) were the others.

Connor O’Dell (+13 for the tourney, T21), Zach Olson (+15, T24), Nathan Bahnman (+34, 49th) and Kaleb Fisher (+38, 51st) took turns boosting the Cascades’ fortunes throughout the tournament.

“We struggled again today (as a team), but overall, fourth place against this field is something to be proud of,” Bertram said. “We have a solid core of young players returning next season, and the future looks very bright for the Cascades golf program.”