BURLINGTON, Ont. - As the golf season comes to a close shortly in Ontario, OUA golfers will wrap up the year at beginning Monday at the Ambassador Golf Club in Windsor, Ont. for the OUA Golf Championships, hosted by the Windsor Lancers.
Teams are gearing up for the biggest tournament of the OUA season as they look to knock off the Waterloo Warriors on the men's side and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on the women's.
Winners of the Ruttan Cup in back-to-back seasons, the Waterloo Warriors enter the championship looking to become the first team to win three consecutive titles since the Varsity Blues men's team actually captured four straight in a stretch of dominance from 1960-1963.
If the Warriors are to write their names into the history books, they will likely need strong performances from David French (Camlachie) and Tyson Turchanski (Calgary, AB.).
French appears to be heating up at just the right time as he enters the OUA championship coming off an individual gold medal win at the McMaster Invitational on Tuesday, where he shot a 2-under score of 69. Back in September, Turchanski, captured his first gold medal as a Warrior when he shot a 73 at the York Invitational to tie for first with three other competitors.
As a team, the Warriors had four second place finishes during the regular season with their only team victory coming at the previously mentioned Guelph Invitational.
If the Ruttan Cup isn't heading home with the Warriors there's still a pretty good chance it could end up in Waterloo, Ont. as the rival Laurier Golden Hawks soar into the OUA championship looking to capture their first title in program history.
Eric Flockhart (Mississauga, Ont.) enters the tournament as one of the hottest golfers over the past couple weeks. The third-year communications studies student-athlete extended his winning streak to three OUA events after he tied for first at both the Guelph Invitational and the Toronto Invitational.
Fellow Laurier standout Austin Ryan (Waterloo, Ont.) is also poised to make some noise at the upcoming OUA championship after he tied with Flockhart for first at his hometown Waterloo Invitational. Earlier this season, the economics major finished fourth at the Western Invitational with a score of 72.
As a team, the Golden Hawks biggest performance of the season came at the Waterloo Invitational where they finished the two-day tournament with a team total of 566, edging the Queen's Gaels by two shots to capture their first team title at an OUA event since the 2008 Guelph Invitational.
If their performance this past summer at the 2016 Canadian University/College Championship is any indication, the Queen's Gaels have as good a shot as any team at hoisting the Ruttan Cup on Tuesday evening. The Gaels finished third at the tournament and were led by Chris Murray (Calgary, Alta.) who finished 14th (tie) with a +9 score over the four day event.
Earlier this season at the York Invitational, the Gaels finished in a tie for first place with the rival Western Mustangs.
The Mustangs stampede down the 401 this weekend looking to end the Warriors two year reign. Prior to Waterloo, it was Western that laid claim to the Ruttan Cup with back-to-back victories in 2012 and 2013.
Charles Fitzsimmons (Toronto, Ont.) will lead the charge for Western and enters the OUA championship with a pair of individual gold medals already this season. At the Western Invitational, the Toronto, Ont. native fired a three under par 69 to win the gold medal and followed that up at the York Invitational scoring 73 to tie for first place.
After hosting the OUA Golf Championships the past two years, the UOIT Ridgebacks will head out on the road looking to win their first title in program history. Mackenzie Dasti (Oshawa, Ont.) and Nicklaus Dirk (London, Ont.) provide a veteran presence for a Ridgebacks team that also features two rookies.
Dasti was named an OUA second-team all-star a season ago and will look to turn a couple solid regular season performances into a potential spot on the podium on Tuesday. The Oshawa, Ont. native opened the season with a second place finish for his hometown team and also had two top-15 place finishes at the Queen's Invitational and the Waterloo Invitational. Dirk recorded top 10 finishes at the Carleton Invitational and the Queen's Invitational before finishing tied with his teammate in Waterloo.
Coming off a bronze medal team finish at their own event, the McMaster Marauders will look to John McPherson (Hannon, Ont.) and Andrew Pearson (Ancaster, Ont.) to continue their strong play at the OUA championship after the pair shot 74 to finish tied for sixth overall.
The Gryphon men's team have posted an impressive record so far throughout the 2016-17 season and had a player within the top ten of a tournament field in all six tournaments leading up to the Championships.
Third-year Nick Striker (Orangeville, Ont.) claimed first place at the Brock Invitational earlier in the season and recently finished tied for sixth at the McMaster Invitational. At his home course, third-year player Josh Polisuk (Montreal) led his team and tied for first at the Guelph Invitational. Both players have led the team this season with top 10 finishes throughout the year.
On the women's side, the four-time defending OUA champions, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues enter the tournament as the favourites following another outstanding regular season. The Blues won both the York and Waterloo Invitational this season and are once again lead by Laura Upenieks (Etobicoke, Ont.).
Now in her eighth year with the team, Upenieks, who is pursuing her PhD in sociology, enters the tournament as the reigning individual champ from a season ago and is coming off an individual win at the U of T Invitational. Earlier this year, Upenieks had a pair of second place finishes at the previously mentioned York and Waterloo Invitationals.
Another golfer to keep an eye on next week for the Blues is second-year standout Kelsey Fuchs (Uxbridge, Ont.). After a 12th place finish at the OUA championship last year as a rookie, Fuchs rattled off two second-place finishes this season at the U of T Invitational and the York Invitational and will be out for a place on the podium on Tuesday.
As a team, the Waterloo Warriors women enter the OUA championship on a roll, having won their last two tournaments. The Warriors are the last team other than the Blues to hoist the Championship Trophy, winning the tournament in back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011.
Coming off both an individual and team gold at the McMaster Invitational, Elanna Lachaine-Demarchi (Cambridge, Ont.) will look to keep it going in Windsor. The second-year environmental and resource studies student-athlete also finished fourth at the Toronto Invitational earlier in the season.
Another Warrior to keep an eye on this weekend is Claire Konning (Moncton) who fired an 80 at the Guelph Invitational to capture individual gold. Both Konning and Lachaine-Demarchi were members of the Warriors silver medal winning from a season ago and finished tied for seventh individually.
After a bronze medal finish at the 2015 OUA Championship, Robyn Campbell (Cornwall, Ont.) and Melissa Ramnauth will look to lead the Queen's Gaels to another podium finish on Tuesday. Earlier this year, Campbell earned an individual gold at the York Invitational finishing with an impressive round at even par 74. Her strong individual play helped the Gaels capture a team bronze medal at the event.
If there is a dark horse to capture the OUA championship it would have to be the Western Mustangs. Western has not won the title since they won four consecutive from 2005-2008, however, if their performance in the regular season is any indication, they could very well be on the top step of the podium on Tuesday.
The Mustangs finished no worse than second in their five events this season, with a pair of first place team finishes at the Western Invitational and the Guelph Invitational.
Leading the charge for the Mustangs is fourth-year golfer Sara Holland (Essex, Ont.), who shot 80 at the Western Invitational to claim gold in her first tournament of the season. The Essex, Ont. native followed that up at the Brock Invitational with a second place finish.
Jordon Newlands (Toronto, Ont.) who made the golf team as a freshman walk-on would like nothing more than to bring the Championship Trophy back to Western in her fifth year. Newlands kicked off her 2016 season with a bronze medal finish at the Western Invitational before tying with teammate Tasha MacDonald (Welland, Ont.) for second at the Guelph Invitational.
The Laurier Golden Hawks will be looking to convert a strong regular season into a place on the podium when they tee off at the Ambassador Golf Club on Monday morning. Last season at the OUA championship, the Golden Hawks finished fifth behind the previously mentioned Mustangs.
Jamie Wood (Toronto, Ont.) and Skylar Turkiewicz (Brantford, Ont.) were both members of that team and are will return to the links once again on Monday representing the purple and gold. Wood is coming off a second place finish earlier this week at the McMaster Invitational, while Turkiewicz fired an 82 at the Western Invitational to claim silver of her own.
After a seventh place individual finish at the OUA championship last year, Shannon Rowan (Whitby, Ont.) will look to represent the Brock Badgers on the podium this time around. Rowan was the individual champion at the Brock Invitational earlier in the season as she shot a 77 at the Sawmille Golf Course to lead the Badgers to a second place team finish.
Other schools competing next week include the Carleton Ravens, Laurentian Voyageurs, Ottawa Gee-Gees, Ryerson Rams, Trent Excalibur, Windsor Lancers and York Lions.
Each women's team will consist of a maximum of four players and a minimum of three, while the men's teams will have a maximum of five and a minimum of four players.
The OUA Golf Championship, which will begin on Monday with a shotgun format (all players commence at the same time from different holes) consists of 36 holes of stroke play. These will be played over the course of two days with 18 holes played on day one, followed by 18 holes on day 2.
The three low gross scores from each women's team will be totaled each day to determine that team's score. The same rules apply to the men's championship, however, four low gross scores will be tallied. The individual player who posts the low gross score for 36 holes will be declared the individual men's / women's champion.
Play begins on Monday morning at the Ambassador Golf Club and will conclude Tuesday evening with the presentation of championship banners and medals at the closing ceremonies.
Visit OUA.ca or follow @OUAsport on Twitter for updates throughout the championship. Click here for the leaderboard.