MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University golf team celebrated a record-breaking year in just its second season of varsity competition. The Mountaineers made strides on the links – highlighted by several record lows and a tournament win – as well as in the classroom with a trio of players honored for their academics.
Mountaineers Smash Records in Season Opener
West Virginia opened the 2016-17 season by posting a then-program record at The Invitational at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, in September. The team’s first-round score of 284 was the second-best of the new era, while four under par was the lowest team score in relation to par since the team was reintroduced. The Mountaineers finished the tournament in ninth at nine over par with a score of 284-285-304=873, marking the third-best score of the new era.
Sear on Fire
went bogey-free in the final round of the VCU Janney Shootout at the Country Club of Virginia last October, tying the lowest round in the school record books with a 66. It marked the lowest score by a Mountaineer since the team was reintroduced in 2015. Sear finished the tournament tied for seventh with a score of 71-66=137. His 36-hole total was also the lowest on record for WVU. The Mountaineers finished eighth overall.
WVU Takes Fourth at Home Tournament
The Mountaineers hosted their second ever home tournament, the Mountaineer Intercollegiate, on Oct. 10-11 at Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, West Virginia. All 10 players competed, though Alan Cooke, Etienne Papineau
, Tristan Nicholls
, Chris Williams and Sear comprised the scoring squad. Led by Cooke, who became the third WVU player to finish in the top-10 of the event, the Mountaineers shot 14 over par to finish in fourth place.
Resuming a rivalry that dates back to 1940, West Virginia and Penn State met in head-to-head action in February at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida. The two teams battled for the Athletic Directors Trophy, a competition that started in 1971 with WVU, PSU, Pitt and Syracuse. The series was disbanded in 1972 after several of the programs were cut. The Nittany Lions claimed the first two competitions in the 1970s and edged WVU in Orlando in 2017 by a score of 377-386.
Mountaineers Add to the Record Book
The squad rewrote several program records in March at the Seminole Intercollegiate at Southwood Golf Course in Tallahassee, Florida. The Mountaineers finished with 54-hole team total of 277-286-286=849, marking the program’s lowest tournament score of the new era. The squad finished 15 under par – also the first under-par team score for WVU. Cooke carded a score of 206, lowering his own program record by one stroke, while setting a new record at 10 under par. The Mountaineers took sixth place at the event.
Cooke Does it Again
Soon after setting a 54-hole record, the senior from Parkersburg, West Virginia, became the second Mountaineer of the season to shoot a school-record 66. Cooke made six birdies and played bogey-free in the final round of the Furman Intercollegiate at the Furman University Golf Club in Greenville, South Carolina, at the end of March. Cooke jumped 50 spots to take 23rd place at one under par.
Mountaineers Claim First Win
WVU claimed its first win in more than 30 years at the East Carolina Intercollegiate at Brook Haven Country Club in Greenville, South Carolina, in April. It marked the program’s first win since restarting varsity competition in 2015 and its first under coach Sean Covich. A four-stroke improvement in the final round pushed the Mountaineers from fourth to first place in the final round, as the squad totaled 300-299-296=895 in claiming top team honors. Sear led the way, tying for first at the conclusion of 54 holes before falling on the second hold of the playoff to finish as the runner-up.
Cooke, Williams Lead Academic Honors
Several Mountaineers earned academic honors throughout the season. Cooke and Williams led the way, representing WVU on the Academic All-Big 12 Golf Team for the second consecutive season. Nicholls, Papineau, Sear, Drew Dewald
, Ty Olinger and Avery Schneider
joined the pair on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll as well.
WVU Returns to Big 12 Championship
West Virginia made its second ever appearance at the Big 12 Championship, which was hosted at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas, in late April. Sear, Cooke, Williams, Nicholls and Papineau represented the team, which finished 10th at the event. Williams posted the best WVU finish at the tournament, closing out his collegiate career. A few months later, the league announced that the 2019 championship would be hosted by the Mountaineers at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Papineau Earns a Pair of Honors
The lone freshman in the lineup, Papineau earned a pair of academic honors to conclude the season – an impressive feat for a student-athlete taking classes outside of his native tongue. The Quebec native was awarded WVU golf’s Academic Achievement Award at the team’s postseason banquet. He went on to claim a spot on the 2017 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team as well.
In addition to the Academic Achievement Award, coach Sean Covich handed out a slew of honors at the team’s annual banquet in May. Sear, who finished with a 74.09 scoring average and five top-20 finishes, was named the WVU Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Nicholls, a sophomore, earned the squad’s first-ever Most Improved Award. In addition, seniors Cooke and Williams were acknowledged at the event.
Woodward Here to Stay
Bridgeport, West Virginia, native Jay Woodward joined the team in the summer of 2016 as a graduate assistant and was elevated to assistant coach in June. He becomes the program’s first-ever fulltime assistant coach. Woodward was a three-year letterwinner for Penn State who was previously named the West Virginia Player of the Year and is a former West Virginia Junior Amateur Champion.