Golf finishes ninth

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    By Blake Matthews

    The BYU men”s golf team finished in ninth place at the NCAA Men”s Golf Championships Friday, June 4, in Hot Springs, Va., after four solid days of competition.

    BYU earned their best NCAA finish since 1999, when they also finished in ninth place. It was the Cougars 19th top 10 finish in NCAA Golf Championship history.

    UCLA faltered in the final round and California made up an eight-stroke difference to land their first NCAA Golf national championship. UNLV”s Ryan Moore finished with a 13-under-par 267 to lead all competitors.

    Finishing in fifth place at the West Regional May 22 in Sunriver, Ore., the Cougars earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Golf Championships.

    Before going to the national tournament, BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said in a news release that it was a great opportunity for BYU to be going back to the NCAA”s.

    “With all the parity in college golf these days, it feels great to get back here [NCAA Championships],” Brockbank said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our program.”

    BYU played well in the first round of the national tournament, with team captain Todd Miller leading the way, hitting a one-under-par 69. At the end of the first day, the Cougars were in great shape, sitting alone in second place.

    Round two proved to be a difficult day for all golfers, with strong, swirling winds affecting the ball. However, after a slow start, the Cougars surged late, producing eight birdies and no bogies on the last three holes. Two days in, BYU was 10-over-par and in third place, only two strokes behind first-place California.

    “We started a little shaky, but I think we all felt we were going to come back,” Miller said.

    In the third round, BYU fell five spots to an eighth place tie with Georgia Tech after going 11-over-par. However, because the Cougars finished in the top 15, they advanced to the fourth and final round. UCLA played the best round of the tournament during the third day of competition, shooting a five-under-par 275. The Bruins jumped from sixth place to first by the end of the round.

    The final round brought heavy rains, wind and cold as the Cougars finished ninth as a team and sophomore Oscar Alvarez finished 17th individually overall. Early in the day, BYU was in third place and was poised to finish strong, but the back nine really hurt BYU.

    In a news release, Brockbank said he had mixed feelings with the results of the tournament.

    “We had a good tournament and I”m pleased with being in the top 10, but it”s a little frustrating knowing we could have easily finished in the top 5,” he said.

    Miller finished the final day with a three-over-par 73 and tied for 30th place overall. Greg Machtaler, Ron Harvey Jr. and Jake Ellison finished in 44th, 65th and 52nd place, respectively.

    “I think this tournament was a great learning experience and gave us a taste of what it takes to get back here next year,” Brockbank said. “Hopefully, the way we finished will fuel the fire to be a contender again next year.”

    BYU returns its entire team next season.

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