BELLINGHAM, Wash. - If success experienced this summer by members of the Western Washington University men's golf team translates to the 2014-15 season, expect the Vikings to be much improved.
Senior Mark Strickland (Mukilteo/Kamiak) competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship held at the Atlanta Athletic Club Highlands Course in mid-August after taking medalist honors in a 36-hole qualifier.
Strickland and sophomore Chris Hatch (Mukilteo/Kamiak) then qualified for the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., after they won by three strokes at 8-under par 64 on Aug. 29.
And freshman Joe Fryer (Mukilteo/Kamiak), who attended the Lee Westwood Golf School in England the last two years, won the Seattle Amateur at 12-under with Strickland tying for fifth and Hatch tying for eighth.
"I watched (Joe) play a few holes of the second round," said coach Luke Bennett of Fryer, "and I was very impressed with his maturity, poise and control in every area of his game. He's going to fit in great with our team."
Bennett is in his second season as coach after handling the duties on an interim basis last year as Steve Card ended 20 years directing the program and made the transition to WWU director of athletics.
"With a successful summer under our belts, I look forward to continuing the momentum into the fall season," Bennett said.
Hatch was a first-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star last year with a team-best scoring average of 75.0 on a squad the placed 10th at the South Central/West Regional and did not qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships after being a national semifinalist in 2013. The Vikings also had a six-year string of Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles snapped with a fourth-place finish.
Another first-team all-conference player back for the Vikings is senior Kyle Schrader (Olympia/Tumwater), who averaged 75.7 strokes. Schrader was the South Central/West Regional medalist as a junior when he earned Golf Coaches Association of America All-America honorable mention.
Strickland was a second-team GNAC all-star last year after earning first-team recognition the previous season.
In all, eight letter winners return. Besides, Hatch, Schrader and Strickland, they include junior Jack Kelly (North Bend/Mount Si) and sophomores Anthony Allen(Arlington), Brennan Emory (Mount Vernon), David Fonua (Seattle/O'Dea), and Kyle Lindor (Woodinville).
Also back is redshirt freshman Willy Scholten (Lynden/Lynden Christian).
Besides Fryer, another solid recruit for WWU is freshman Brian Moon (Mukilteo/Kamiak), who tied for 13th at the Class 4A state tournament last spring.
WWU opens its season on Sept. 19-20 at the Saint Martin's Invitational. The Vikings host their 43rd annual tournament on Sept. 22-23 at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club.
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