The 2009-10 Cougars advanced to NCAA regional competition for the first time since the 2006-07 season. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Veteran experience and leadership brought success and direction to a 2009-10 BYU men’s golf team that received numerous post-season awards and seven top-five finishes.
“We did a good job for being a fairly young team,” said BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank. “We were able to capitalize on senior leadership and we benefited a lot from our younger guys to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing it the last couple of years.”
Multiple post-season awards capped a solid season both on the team and individual levels for BYU.
Senior Robbie Fillmore was named All-America honorable Mention by the Golf Coaches Association of America for his performance in 2010. He also finished the season ranked as the No. 52 collegiate golfer in the nation by golfweek.com.
“He (Fillmore) played extremely well the whole year,” Brockbank said. “As the season wore on he put the team on his back and really carried them.”
Along with multiple top-five finishes and individual accolades, post-season academic honors poured in for the Cougars.
Five Cougars received Academic All-MWC honors. Among the honorees were Fillmore, who received his fourth-consecutive honor, senior Brady Johnson, who collected his third-consecutive award, freshman Zac Blair, junior Esteban Calisto, and sophomore Jordan Rodgers, who received his second award in as many years. Along with Academic All-MWC accolades, Fillmore and Johnson were both named 2009-10 MWC Scholar-Athletes and Division I Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
“Fillmore and Brady (Johnson) did a great job of leading the team this year, both on the course and academically,” Brockbank said. “Academics has always been important and we had good representation this year.”
The Cougars started a strong fall campaign by finishing third at the William H. Tucker Invitational in September. Fillmore led the way for BYU, recording a third-place finish among the 104 golfers competing, finishing the tournament at 6-under-par. Rodgers finished tied for 13th, posting rounds of 72-75-68.
Blair, a true freshman, kicked off an impressive first year by leading the Cougars and cracking the top-30 at the Baylor Intercollegiate Invitational. Blair finished tied for 30th place in the 66-man field after shooting rounds of 72-77-72 to end the weekend with at 8-over-par. His third-round 72 established a career best.
“Zac (Blair) seems to get better and better,” Brockbank said. “When he’s in a pressure situation, he always steps up and posts great scores. He is all heart.”
The Pacific Invitational, where two Cougars posted career lows, rounded out the fall schedule. Fillmore posted a 65 on the first day of competition to establish a new personal best and Johnson tallied a 66 on the final day to improve his career low. Fillmore recorded his second top-five finish of the fall, tying for fifth-place with a seven-under-par finish while Johnson finished at nine-under to capture third place. Calisto also headlined by shooting a season-low 67 in his final round en route to a 20th-place finish.
“Senior leadership was important from the very beginning and as the fall progressed Robbie (Fillmore) and Brady (Johnson) began to make people better in preparation for the spring,” Brockbank said. “They set great examples.”
The spring season got under way in February at the John Burns Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Cougars finished tied for third place among the 15 teams in the field, with Fillmore tying for third place. He posted a Cougar-best 65 in round three to bring his total score to a nine-under 207. Blair, who finished the tournament in 17th place at 3-under-par, joined Fillmore in the top 20.
The Cougars captured their first team victory in March at the Fresno Lexus Classic, defeating San Diego State on the first playoff hole on a birdie from Blair to secure the championship. Fillmore recorded his second top-5 finish of the spring and his first individual title, tallying two rounds of 67 on his way to a five-under 208 finish. Johnson tied for fifth in the 99-man field, shooting even par on the weekend. Freshman Alton Anderson shot a season-low 68 in his first round and recorded a season-best performance tied for 25th.
“The victory at the Lexus Classic was a big boost for us,” Brockbank said. “We were on the bubble for receiving an automatic bid to a regional the whole year and that definitely helped our chances.”
BYU carried that momentum into the Deseret Shootout where it finished fourth overall, shooting 5-under-par as a team. Blair topped his season-low round on the second day of the Deseret Shootout, a four-under 68. He would finish the tournament tied for 13th, his top finish of the season. Rodgers led all Cougars with a seven-under 209, good enough for fourth place overall, and Fillmore finished tied for fifth, shooting a six-under 210.
The annual PING Cougar Classic saw the Cougars place second as a team; their third top-five finish of the spring. Four of five Cougars placed in the top 10 with Fillmore finishing a 209-performance in a tie for fourth place.
At the Mountain West Conference Championships in Tucson, Arizona, BYU placed fourth on the heels of strong efforts from Fillmore and Calisto, who tied for seventh place, both shooting even par. Calisto’s 213 propelled him to his best finish of 2010.
For the 18th time in program history, the Cougars were invited to NCAA regional competition, this time as the No. 9 seed of the Southeast Region in Alpharetta, Ga. Fillmore led the Cougars with a 1-under 209 tournament total. He shot sub-70 in the first two rounds to capture a tie for third place. Fillmore’s performance was good enough for an invitation to the NCAA Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he competed in the event for the first time in his career and tied for 18th place with a 2-under 214 tournament total (74-72-69).
“It left a bitter taste in our mouth when we didn’t advance to the NCAA Championships as a team,” Brockbank said. “However, it was very pleasing to get back to a regional and perform well. I was proud of our guys.”