Pebble Beach, Calif. — BYU Freshman Manuel Merizalde from Cali, Columbia shot a two-under par 70 and junior Andy Miller added an even par 72 as the Cougars opened up an 18-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Golf Championships.
The Cougars posted a two-over-par 290 team score Tuesday on the par 72, 6,835-yard Poppy Hills Golf Course, and have a 36-hole total of one-under par.
BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said he was impressed with the team’s strong start.
“Manuel shot a 70, which was phenomenal. He was solid. Andy Miller shot a 72. That was some serious golf and he stepped up big time. Jose Garrido shot a 73 by bogeying one hole and playing the rest of the course one-under par. That was just phenomenal golf.
Scott Miller, Andy’s younger brother, added a 75. The team scoring format counts the best four scores from each five-man team. Four of BYU’s five players are in the top-11 finishers heading into the final round.
The only other team to post a team score below 300 Tuesday was the University of New Mexico which shot a 296.
Merizalde, who shared the first-round lead with teammate Billy Harvey and UNLV’s Michael Kirk, was just one of two players to break par Tuesday. He had four birdies and two bogeys in his round and is the only player in the 80-player field to post two under-par rounds with his 69 and 70. Joel Hendry of New Mexico was the only other player to break par in the middle round, also with a two-under 70.
The 54-hole tournament concludes with 18 holes Wednesday, but Brockbank doesn’t want his team celebrating just yet.
“We’ll come out hungry and see what happens … but this course can come up and grab you.
Merizalde said, “I putted pretty well today, too. Maybe not as good as yesterday, but pretty well. I hit my driver better today.
“I hope to play as well tomorrow.”