(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah — After winning the PING Cougar Classic and placing third at the West Coast Conference Championships, the BYU men’s golf team’s 2015-16 campaign has come to a close.
With the majority of the roster filled with underclassmen, the youthful Cougars got off to a bumpy start. As the year progressed, the team worked out some kinks to win the PING Cougar Classic and place third at the WCC Championships.
“It was a growing year for all of us,” BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said. “We didn’t start improving and finding things towards the end of the season. Our expectations were higher than how we performed and hopefully we’ll be out working hard this summer.”
Throughout the season, BYU relied on the consistency of Patrick Fishburn. The sophomore tallied six top-10 and seven top-20 finishes this season.
“When I recruited Patrick, I though he was a guy that we’d be able to lean on,” Brockbank said. “He has continued to step up on the course. As a student athlete he is working hard and doing the things he needs to be doing.”
At the Nick Watney Invitational in October, Fishburn’s third-place finish led the Cougars to a ninth-place finish, their best of the year so far.
At the start of the spring season, BYU competed in the Arizona Collegiate where the Cougars took sixth place out of 17 teams. Fishburn again concluded the event in the top-10, finishing eighth overall.
In April, BYU hosted and won the PING Cougar Classic in which the Cougars shot 35-under-par. All BYU competitors finished in the top-20, with freshman Austen Christiansen placing first individually.
“To do it at your home course tells you that the young guys are capable," Brockbank said. "People expect you to compete, but to come through is another thing. I was really impressed with how the guys handled it and it was great to see Austen finish that off."
Just a week later, the young Cougar team traveled to California to compete in the WCC Championships. Behind a solid team effort, BYU men’s golf placed third, shooting 4-over-par for the event.
BYU finished the 2015-16 year as Fishburn represented the Cougars at the NCAA Regionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fishburn tied for 53rd place and shot 22-over-par.
“Next year we will still be young on paper,” Brockbank added. “We will rely on some new freshman talent—I am looking forward to the addition of our new guys.”
BYU will add four new faces to the 2016-17 squad. The Cougars signed incomers Peter Kuest, Carson Lundell and Rhett Rasmussen in the offseason, while returned missionary Kelton Hirsch will also be added to the roster.
Hirsch, an all-state basketball player and golfer out of Viewmont high school, will join the team after serving a full-time mission in Mexico. In 2013, Hirsch won the Utah 5A boys’ golf individual crown, shooting a total score of 143 through 36 holes.
“We are expecting Kelton to come in and compete,” Brockbank said. “He is a great kid and will help with the competitive nature and attitude of the team.”