After seeing its 20-year winning streak stopped in 1989, the BYU golf team started a new streak by winning last year's Cougar Classic golf tournament.
The Cougars will be one of the favorites when the 13-team field begins play Friday morning at Riverside Country Club. The 54-hole tourney will feature 36 holes of medal play Friday with the final 18 on Saturday.BYU will be favored along with 12th-in-the-nation UTEP, which is making its first Classic appearance, 1989 winner New Mexico, and a pair of Pac-10 powerhouses, Stanford and Washington.
Three other local schools, Utah, Weber State and Utah State, are in the field along with Wyoming, Cal-Santa Barbara, Boise State, Cal-Berkeley and the University of British Columbia.
BYU has a deep squad, but no real standouts on this year's team. No one averages below 74 strokes per round, but any one of them is capable of winning this weekend. Juniors Ramon Brobio, Ryan Rhees, Michael Weir, Jeff Kraemer and Dean Wilson, who lost in a playoff for medalist honors last year, are likely starters for Coach Karl Tucker, along with freshman Joe Summerhays. The Cougars have won two tournaments this year, the Pan American and Guadalajara tournaments in Mexico.
"After two wins, we have a high confidence level," said Tucker. "We are now ready to pick it up and make our final push."
Other top individuals in the tourney include UTEP's Dave Bishop and Paul Stankowski, New Mexico's Tim Herron, Washington's Mike Swingle, Stanford's Motah Begay and Santa Barbara's Derek Gilchrist.
Utah may be one of the hottest teams in the tournament, coming off an impressive win in the Nevada Spring Golf Invitational over 13 other teams including 16th-ranked Nevada-Reno earlier this week. The Utes are led by Brett Taylor, a transfer from Northwestern, Ross Marcano, Marty Romney and Phil Holmes.
"We're really on a roll," said Ute Coach Ron Branca, whose team also won the Skywest Invitational earlier this year.
Weber State's squad includes Paco Combs, Russ McKay, Pablo del Olmo, Brandon Hatfield, Chet Davids and Jamie Harris. Utah State is led by Brad Church, John Van Vleet, Scott Erling and Dave Snyder.