The BYU golfers have big shoes to fill this season with only four players returning from last year’s team.
Jordan Rodgers led the team last season but has moved on to professional play. He finished last year with an individual win at the PING Cougar Classic. He also competed as an individual at the NCCAA Regional Championships.
The team had their ups and downs last season even though Rodgers consistently played well.
“This season was difficult for us. We struggled all year long with our depth and inconsistency, which happens when you lose your top players,” BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said of the 2014-15 season.
The Cougar’s highest finish was third at the PING Cougar Classic. The team also finished in the top five in three other tournaments and in the top 10 in nine tournaments.
Even though seniors Rodgers, Cole Ogden and Mike Jurca have moved on, BYU returns four players with experience and hopes of having a stronger 2015-16 season.
Despite their struggles, the team members feel they have a leader to look up to this season. Sophomores Zach Pritchard and CJ Lee think fellow sophomore Patrick Fishburn is that guy. He is playing very well right now according to Pritchard and Lee, and Brockbank said that he agrees with his players.
“We are going to lean heavily on him,” Brockbank said.
Fishburn has not played at the collegiate level for two years because he was serving an LDS mission in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2011, he had his best performance of the season at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational with back-to-back rounds of 70 and 69 to finishing 1-under-par. He also finished seventh at the PING Cougar Classic shooting 2-under-par in 2012.
But the Cougars must work as a team in order to succeed. Golf may be an individual sport but match play requires a team effort. Team golf introduces added pressure, according to Brockbank. Each Cougar golfer needs to be on the top of their game.
Pritchard showed potential last season with good outings in a few tournaments. He tied for 16th at the WCC Championships, which was the second-best finish of the BYU players. He also finished with a total of 217, four-over-par, and tied for 23rd at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
Brockbank said he is excited for the upcoming season and he likes the freshmen’s attitude. They are hungry despite the growing pains they will face according to Brockbank. Lee has said that he is looking forward to a solid start with the young cast this year. He thinks their team will be at their best as players continue to develop and peak after gaining experience throughout the year.
BYU starts off the 2015-16 season at the St. Mary’s Invitational, a neutral tournament held at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California. The tournament is Sept. 14-16.