PROVO — Freshman Peter Kuest and senior Alex White won medalist honors in leading BYU’s men and women to a clean sweep of the West Coast Conference Golf Championship Saturday at Riverside Country Club. Pepperdine’s women and men finished second.
Kuest tapped in a par putt on the first hole of a playoff with Santa Clara's Hayden Shieh to capture his first college tournament title. Both finished the 54-hole championship at 11-under par.
“I’m a little star struck right now,” said Kuest, who came to BYU out of Fresno with influence from former Cougar and PGA Tour Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. Miller followed Kuest during Saturday’s final round.
“It’s a great feeling to win this championship. I was trying to play for someone besides myself out there,” said Kuest.https://twitter.com/TomHolmoe/status/855914248735739905
Indeed, a week ago, Kuest lost his grandmother and on his glove he had “Oma” inscribed in the leather, dedicating the week to his departed loved one.
Kuest got up on the No. 18 tee box in the first playoff hole and hit his longest drive of the week on 18, right down the middle about 350 yards. He had a flip sand wedge to 18 feet from the hole.
Shieh, who’d finished earlier than Kuest, hit his drive in the left rough and his approach missed the green in deep grass above the left bunker. His chip rolled past the hole to the back of the green, making it an easy par win for the Cougar.
“Peter is one of the best players in the country,” said junior Patrick Fishburn, a long hitter off the tee. “I’d say pound for pound, Pete hits the ball farther than anyone in the country. He’s only 165 pounds. You saw it on that last drive.”
BYU women got a sterling effort from White, who chased down and passed 36-hole leader Hira Naveed from Pepperdine, who faded in the final round with a 76. Naveed finished in a tie for fourth.
Twice, White warmed up, thinking she was in a playoff with teammate Kendra Dalton, then Rose Haung. When Haung made par on her final hole, White owned the trophy.
BYU’s men defeated Pepperdine by 7 shots at 24-under par, one stroke off the all-time WCC Golf Championship record set by Saint Mary’s in 2016 at Blackhawk Country Club in Danville, California. The Cougar women, led by White’s final round 2-under par score, had Dalton and Haung tie for second one shot back at 2-over par for the event.
Kuest, who began the day tied for individual honors, got off to a shaky start with a double bogey on his third hole, the par-4 No. 12. He then made seven birdies to shoot a 68. Teammate C.J. Lee, the fifth player on the roster, set the tone of the day for the Cougars by making birdies on three of his first five holes en route to a 68. Fishburn finished tied for fifth at five-under with a final round that had an eagle, two birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey. Rhett Rassmussen, 1-under, and Lee at 2-under were the only other Cougars under par.
“We’re just trying to keep up with the girls, they’ve won two in a row,” said BYU head golf coach Bruce Brockbank. “We talked about it earlier how important that fifth player is, and I couldn’t be happier for C.J. To shoot a 68 with no bogeys on this course is saying something. He’s worked so hard, and I’m proud of him. It kept us in there.”
Brockbank said Kuest’s ability to turn around his round after a bad start was a phenomenal effort by his freshman. “He had a lot on his mind today with the death of his grandmother. He just ground it out and showed why he is such a great player.”
Brockbank said it's been 15 years since BYU had a freshman win a conference championship. “He carried this team on his back today, and he had two great rounds. It shows character, he is the epitome of a college player, he works so hard.”
BYU women’s coach Carrie Roberts said she was hoping for a T1 from her three players who battled each other down the wire to distance the team from Pepperdine and the field.
“This just showed how hard they work and how tough they are,” said Roberts. “Nobody was really on today except Alex. They all struggled at times but hung in there.
"We just battled. The girls are solid. They keep getting better and tougher. This win shows how hard the girls work and speaks a lot about the kind of people they are. They deserve it. They deserve the credit and recognition."