PROVO — Peter Kuest stood on the final hole of the 54-hole John A. Burns Invitational Tournament at Wailua Golf Club in Hawaii last week and hit a cut 5-iron into the 255-yard par-3 hole to within 10 feet of the flag. He then sank the birdie putt for a one-stroke win. It was the fourth collegiate victory of the season in seven tries for the BYU star.
The shot came with a stiff ocean breeze, the pressure of the day, and must-make shots to defeat Texas A&M star Walker Lee for medalist honors.
But it was much more than that.
By winning his fourth tournament since the beginning of school last fall, Kuest put himself in a unique spot at a school with a pretty beefy reputation for producing All-Americans, placing PGA Tour players on the world circuit, and annexing an NCAA title in the mid-80s. From Johnny Miller to Bobby Clampett, Mike Weir and Mike Reid and so many others, few if any won medalist honors in four collegiate tournaments in one year.
The only other collegian in the country who has won that many this year is No. 1-ranked Matthew Wolff of Oklahoma State.
Kuest did it by mid-February and still has opportunities to win more with the Olympic Club Intercollegiate in San Francisco, Goodwin Invitational at Stanford, ASU Invitational, Cougar Classic, WCC Championship, and possible NCAA regional still to come.
In short, Kuest is on fire, currently ranked No. 5 nationally (Golfstat) as a collegian this year.
To win, to get over the hump, to bear down and finish strong on the final holes of a hotly contested tournament is a tough feat.
“It’s something you have to figure out on your own,” said BYU golf coach Bruce Brockbank, himself a two-time Utah State Amateur champion and a coach who has personally worked with 20 All-Americans.
“Peter’s really figured that out (how to win),” said Brockbank. “I mean, to win four of seven events this year? I haven't been around anybody that’s done that. I think we've had guys win one, two or three, but not four of the first seven. So it's exciting. It's fun to watch his confidence grow.”
Kuest, who grew up playing golf in Fresno, is a guy who can hit his TaylorMade driver 370 to 400 yards at Provo's altitude on a consistent basis. He drives it 300-plus at sea level, which puts a 7- or 6-iron in his hands on par-5 holes for his approach shots. He’s a talented putter, too, and has the short game to take him to the highest levels of competition. His work ethic is widely recognized in both California and Utah.
Kuest won the WCC Championship as a freshman and the Nick Watney Invitational as a sophomore. Now a junior, he has 16 top-20 finishes in his college career. This year his average score in competitive play is 68.2 strokes.
Earlier this week at Riverside Country Club, Kuest explained what it is like to bear down when it counts.
“I feel like my mental game is really good,” Kuest said. “When I’m able to stay really calm, I can rise to the occasion when presented with opportunities.1 comment on this story
“I just feel like if I can put myself in position, then I try to get in a different zone. Everything kind of goes dark around me and I’m just locked in. And that’s the only thing that matters. I feel like I can do that pretty well.”
In his latest win, it wasn’t just the last tee shot he hit to within 10 feet from 255 yards out, it was how he handled the day and his round.
Kuest shot rounds of 66-72-68 in his win at Lihue, Hawaii.
Said Brockbank of his final round, “It was a walk-in-the-park 68.”