Dick Harmon: When's last time BYU golf had back-to-back medalists?
PROVO — So, when is the last time BYU had a pair of golfers win back-to-back college tournament medalist honors?
They’re researching it. Has to be a long while ago, if at all. But it happened this month, that we know.
From Johnny Miller through Bobby Clampett, Mike Reid, John Fought, Rick Fehr and Mike Weir to the era of Daniel Summerhays and all those names in between? The late Karl Tucker may have seen back-to-back champions out of his squad. But nobody I’ve talked to can remember.
“I don’t know about the individual thing,” said current Cougar coach Bruce Brockbank Jr. “There have been many times the team has won four, five or six titles in a season, but I’m not sure on the other, individuals.”
For the record, sophomore Devon Purser started things off in November when he won the SCVB Pacific Invitational. But in March, Brockbank got two winners in consecutive college events when junior Justin Keiley earned a one-stroke victory in the Triumph at Pauma Valley. In the next college tournament, three-time UGA player of the year Zac Blair fired a season-low final round 64 to win medalist honors in the Desert Shootout in Goodyear, Ariz.
In between Keiley and Blair’s wins, Blair and freshman teammate Joe Parkinson were part of a three-way tie for the UGA’s Winterchamps Tournament at Sand Hollow and Sky Mountain in Hurricane. In a modified Stableford scoring event, both had 88 points to tie Utah State’s Tanner Higham. There was no playoff and the trio shared the trophy.
Perhaps it signals a trend for Brockbank’s squad, led by the talented Blair, son of former Cougar All-American Jimmy Blair.
The last time the Cougars had a season in which players won multiple individual titles in college golf was 2006-07, but the wins did not come back-to-back. It was a year current PGA Tour veteran and Utah Amateur champion Daniel Summerhays won the PING Cougar Classic at Riverside Country Club and former Utah Open champion and teammate Clay Ogden won the Pacific Invitational.
Brockbank’s players have a couple of chances to add to this momentum in coming weeks when the Cougars play in the WCC Golf Championship April 15-17 in Bremerton, Wash., and April 26, when they host the PING Cougar Classic in Provo.
Team chemistry, a developing competitive edge and a heightened level of performance both individually and as a squad are evident as the Cougars hit better weather.
This team needs more players shooting below par, a smattering of 67s and 69s to be a real threat on the national scene. But winning medalist honors can’t hurt. Blair should be the favorite to win the PING Cougar Classic on his home course.
This past weekend, while his teammates won the Desert Shootout in Arizona, non-traveling teammate Cole Ogden fired rounds of 68 and 61 to win the Dixie Red Hills Amateur in St. George by seven shots. A par-68 course, Ogden’s performance was impressive considering his 61 got a peek at the course-record 57 established a long time ago by current Champions Tour veteran Jay Don Blake, a native of St. George.
This team has eight top-five finishes this collegiate season and five finishes in the top three events played in that span.
This year’s NCAA Regionals will be May 16-18 in Tempe, Ariz., and it's an event BYU, as a team, guns for every season.
“We’ve got some good players and we’re having a lot of fun,” said Blair.
And of course, that is the ultimate bottom line.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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