Quaker Valley grad Chris Tanabe going from good to great on Bucknell golf team
Quaker Valley graduate and Bucknell junior men’s golfer Chris Tanabe is off to a strong start and expects to be a serious contender for the Patriot League title.
Tanabe shot a school-record tying 65 in the final round to earn his second career tournament victory in the Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 21-22.
After an opening-round 68, Tanabe fired a bogey-free second round. His nine-under 133 set a new school 36-hole record.
Bucknell placed second and is off to its best start since 2009. Earlier, the Bison came in second in events hosted by Colgate and Cornell.
Tanabe placed 12th and third, respectively, in those events.
“I’m playing some of the best golf of my life these past few months,” said Tanabe, who won the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Amateur Championship in July. “I entered the season with the goal of tallying at least two individual and team wins.
“My main goal, though, is to win the conference. Whether it’s individually or as a team, I expect to be playing in May at the NCAA Regionals and the NCAA national championships.”
Tanabe said his game is more consistent than last season, when he tied for seventh in the Patriot League tournament (74-72-73).
‘I haven’t tried to change much,” said Tanabe, the 2014 WPIAL and 2016 PIAA Class AA boys individual champion. “If there’s one aspect of my game that has noticeably improved, it would be my putting.
“I am much more confident on the greens and, with recent success, I’ve been able to develop the mentality of making every putt.”
Bucknell coach Michael Binney said Tanabe has gone from a good to great golfer. His accuracy has improved and he is making more birdies.
Binney said Tanabe is easily one of the best golfers in the conference.
On the Bucknell women’s side, Sewickley Academy graduate Tatum McKelvey has cracked the starting lineup as a freshman.
McKelvey (79-86-79) played all three rounds in the season-opening Bucknell Invitational on Sept. 14-15.
She played individually in the Nittany Lion Invitational at Penn State a week later (84-79-80).
“Going into the season, you set goals of starting in your first tournament freshman year, but with how competitive this team is, I knew it would be hard,” McKelvey said. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be.
“My teammates were so supportive and helped me keep my mind off the idea of this being my first (Division I) competition. I tried to have a lot of fun and learn from the other girls I played with throughout the weekend.”
McKelvey, the 2017 WPIAL Class AA girls individual champion who led Sewickley Academy to the 2017 PIAA title, said she is excited about how her short game is coming along.
Bucknell coach Lisa Francisco said once McKelvey gets her short game finely tuned, a 79 round will become a 75 round on a regular basis.
“She has been striking the ball very well over the last few weeks,” Francisco said. “The more she competes at the collegiate level, the more comfortable she will feel and the results will come.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.