By AARON MANGUM
In an eventful week, the BYU Men’s Golf team won both the Western Athletic Conference Championship and the U.S. Intercollegiate tournament, had three team members honored and its coach named as coach of the year.
It was the final year for the Cougars to compete in the WAC as they move to the new Mountain West Conference next season. They finished the WAC schedule by defeating the second-ranked Rebels from UNLV by 11 strokes.
“I am so excited for this team,” said BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank. “I don’t care who you are, beating a powerhouse team like UNLV is a big deal — especially when it’s for the conference championship.”
The Cougars were propelled by freshman Manuel Merizalde, who led all three rounds to finish with a 3-under-par 213 to claim the individual tournament.
“I can’t say enough about Manuel’s performance this week,” Brockbank said. “He was phenomenal. I have never seen him so focused.”
“I just wanted today to be another round of golf,” Merizalde said. “I was nervous until I teed it up and realized it was my tournament to win.”
The freshman becomes the 14th Cougar to win the individual title. Junior Andy Miller also won the tournament as a freshman in 1997.
Three BYU players were named to the 10-man All-Conference team. They were Merizalde, Miller and Billy Harvey.
Miller, a junior from Napa, Calif., and son of professional golfer Johnny Miller, equaled his father’s mark by being named to the All-Conference team for the third-straight year. Miller is currently ranked No. 35 in the nation.
Harvey is a sophomore from Las Vegas and is ranked 42nd in the nation. He has finished second in two events this year and has also had three other top 10 finishes.
The players were not the only members of the Cougar team to be honored. Head coach Bruce Brockbank was named WAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his seven years as head coach. He received the same honor in 1994.
Brockbank has coached three All-Americans and 12 All-WAC players in just seven years and has coached three WAC Freshmen of the Year.
Brockbank was named first-team All-WAC twice as a player for BYU, as well as earning third team All-America and Academic All-America honors in his senior season in 1988.
As if the WAC championship was not enough, the Cougars headed to Stanford to compete in the U.S. Intercollegiate tournament May 7-8.
The Cougars again dominated their competition by posting a 10-stroke win over No. 19 Oregon. Stanford, the tournament’s host, finished 11 strokes behind the Cougars, good enough for a third-place finish.
This time it was Andy Miller leading the way for the Cougars with a third-place finish and a 5-under-par score of 208.
Miller’s brother Scott helped the Cougar cause, finishing in a tie for ninth with a score of 218.
“It has been a great week for us,” Brockbank said following the tournament win. “We are playing solid golf right now and any time you win it’s a big deal. I knew it would just be a matter of time until Andy put it all together. He led us to victory today.”
The Cougars will hope to add to their winning streak in the NCAA West Regionals in Tucson, Ariz., May 19-21.
BYU enters the Regionals as the No. 1 ranked team in District 7 and the No. 12 ranked team in the nation.