Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Junior Carson Lundell takes a swing at Riverside Country Club. Lundell tied for first at the Nick Watney Invitational and helped the BYU men's golf team win its first tournament of the season. (BYU Photo)

BYU men’s golf finishes victorious at Watney Invitational

The BYU men’s golf team won the Nick Watney Invitational in Fresno, California, on Feb. 9 with a score of 273 in the final round to get the Cougars’ first tournament victory of the season.

“I loved the attitude,” BYU head coach Bruch Brockbank said. “I liked the gas, a lot of energy, they’re working hard. It was just really fun to watch this group of guys put it together and win the Watney. We were fortunate enough to make enough birdies to get the win.”

BYU finished the final round at 15-under-par, the best 18-hole team score of the entire tournament. The Cougars completed the tourney with a three-round total of 833, narrowly defeating Loyola Marymount who placed second with a score of 836.

“When you’ve got five guys playing, a lot of times you’ve got one or two guys who are really struggling and the other three guys have to bail them out,” Brockbank said. “But to have every one of your guys coming down the last three holes at three-under-par or better, you’re just going ‘wow, what just happened?’ You know? Because it doesn’t happen.”

Not only did the Cougars win the tournament overall, but junior Carson Lundell tied for first with LMU’s Gavin Cohen with a three-round total of 203 (68-69-66).

Two other Cougars joined Lundell in the top 10, with sophomore Cole Ponich finishing in fourth place and sophomore David Timmins tying for ninth. Neither player had ever finished in a tournament top 10 prior to this point in their BYU careers.

BYU was sitting squarely in third place prior to the final round but managed to surge past West Coast Conference foes LMU and Saint Mary’s en route to victory.

Kelton Hirsch brought momentum to the entire Cougar squad in the final round. Hirsch immediately putted three birdies in a row, and Lundell followed suit with three birdies of his own. Soon enough, the whole team was following their example, finishing the round in glorious fashion.

With just a three-shot lead over LMU, things were extremely tight at the end. But just as the pressure was mounting, sophomore Cole Ponich birdied the last two holes to solidify the Cougar victory.

“As a coach, watching it play out was pretty fun to see,” Brockbank said. “Every tournament you go to you want to be in contention and you want to win tournaments. We hadn’t done it this year with the group, but man, they were playing like champs the last round for sure.”

BYU will look to continue the momentum in Chula Vista, California as the Cougars compete in the Lamkin Invitational at the San Diego Country Club on March 8-9.

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