Harrison puts Augustana golf on national stage
University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings golfer Micheal Harrison poses with a Mountie and his coach Bill Penny at the Canadian University/Collegiate Championship at the Chilliwack Golf Club on Sunday. Supplied
Inside the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, the name Michael Harrison is well known as a two time all-Canadian.
On Sunday the rest of the Canadian post-secondary scene found out who he it.
The University of Alberta-Augustana golfer finished in a tie for eleventh with Kyle Claggett and Zach Olson of the University of Fraser Valley at the Canadian University/College Championships in Chilliwack, B.C.
"I'm very happy to represent Augustana at that level, make the cut and finish that way," he said. "There's a lot of people who supported me so I could go and play that event, so to take advantage of the opportunity that was given, it's probably not something that will happen again because I am running out of years of eligibility here. It was a great week, I'm very happy with it."
At the very least his performance helps put the Augustana golf program on national map. His Vikings golf bag was the talk of the tournament, garnering questions from Golf Canada officials and fellow competitors about the school.
"Just to get to tell everyone about the school and what I am taking there, it gives you a sense of pride that even though we come from a small town and a small program we are still able to put together a strong program," said Harrison.
That program has a strong history of producing all-Canadians, including two this year in Harrison and Braeden Clarkson, and consistently is one of the better programs in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
The reigning ACAC men's golfer of the year's weekend did not get off to a good start. He opened with a one-over-73 and a three-over-75 in the first two rounds. His tournament turned on Saturday with the arrival of his coach Bill Penny and shooting a four-under-68 to tie for the single best round of the day. He closed the weekend with a one-under-75 to finish with a 1-under-287 for the championship.
"It seemed like when he was there I played a whole lot better," said Harrison, 23, who just wrapped up his third year at Augustana. "He watched and he talked me through a couple of shots on the tee box here and there. He was just there for good support and cheered me on and helped me feel more comfortable out there."
Whether it was pure coincidence or a calming effect that Penny brought from Alberta, Harrison's game started coming together, on the green where he was making putts he was missing on the first two days.
The Chilliwack Golf Club is a course Harrison is familiar with, having finished 32nd there at the CCAA championships in 2015 as a freshman with a score of five-over four the tournament.
"I kind of like the golf course, so when I heard that the Canadian university championship was going to be there I was excited to go back because it was a course I had payed well on and was familiar with," said Harrison.
In the process, he edged out his younger brother Andrew Harrison, who plays for the University of British Columbia, by one stroke. It is a friendly rivalry for the Camrose brothers who play against each other during the summer on various tours and tournaments, but rarely at the collegiate level.
"Earlier in the week I was able to play a practice round with him and we were just joking around about who could beat who during the week," he said. "That’s always fun, we run into that a lot of times during events during the summer, but this was the first time at a university event."
Making his performance that much more remarkable is the fact he has only been able to get out on a golf course for the last three weeks due to the late thaw in Alberta. In the lead-up to the championship he played in two MJT tournaments, finishing second in Lethbridge, which was his first actual round of the year, and winning in Banff with a 73 and a 69 over two rounds.
This early season success could potentially set up a big summer for Harrison who will be playing the Alberta Open in Calgary and the Alberta Men's Amateur in Nisku at Red Tail with the goal of qualifying for the Canadian Men's Amateur Championship at Duncan Meadows and Pheasant Glen on Vancouver Island