By Emily Welch
The BYU men”s golf team secured a spot at the NCAA National tournament for the third consecutive year by finishing No. 6 at regionals in Tucson, Ariz.
The top 10 teams at the tournament advanced to Nationals, and going into the last day of play, the Cougars were No. 11.
“There was a little bit of urgency and desire,” BYU assistant coach Todd Miller said.
Junior Clay Ogden, who led the team at eight strokes under par, said the whole team was aware of its low standing and realized that it might not make it to Nationals.
“We all saw where we stood,” he said. “We came in expecting to win regionals. It was all or nothing – and we got it done.”
Nick Becker, shooting three under par in Tucson, said the last day of competition was filled with intensity and anxiety.
“There was a lot of pressure,” he said. “It was like a 100 degrees out. It was hot and there was pressure, but it was fun.”
BYU qualified for nationals in familiar style. Last year at the national tournament in Baltimore, the Cougars were No. 11 going into the final day of competition. During that last day they moved up to place No. 4 in the nation.
Head coach Bruce Brockbank said his players have set high goals for the team going into nationals this year, and if they make their putts and work on their short game, they will place high.
“We are going to go, play well, and hopefully find ourselves in contention,” he said.
The Cougars are no strangers to this year”s national venue, which will be at the Sunriver Golf Course in Bend, Ore. The Cougars have played there numerous times and are familiar with the course.
“We have a great opportunity to win a national championship if we play like I know we can,” Ogden said. “The advantage to us is that we”re comfortable there [at Sunriver]. It”s like a home away from home.”
Miller said BYU knows the course better than any team in the championship because they”ve played in tournaments there the past six years.
“We like the course, but we”ll have to play four solid rounds” he said.
Nick Becker, who shot three strokes under par at regionals, won the conference tournament last year on the Sunriver course.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “It”s just a matter of getting comfortable on the first day of play rather than the second or third. You can”t win it on the first day of competition, but you can lose it on the first day.”
Jake Ellison, MWC player of the year, said golf is mostly mental and the team will have to prepare to compete.
“We”re going in to win,” Ellison said. “We have to be strong mentally and confident. We need to hit the shots we need to hit and make good decisions.”
The national tournament beings at Sunriver Wednesday May 31 and continues through the weekend.