Fresno, Calif.--BYU's men's golf team jumped out to a fantastic start at the NCAA West Regional after shooting 12-under-par to lead the field of 27 teams.
Sixth-ranked BYU holds a four-shot lead over Arizona and a five-shot lead over host Fresno State and fifth-ranked Arizona State.
Sophomore Manuel Merizalde paced the Cougars with a five-under-par first round performance followed by senior captain Andy Miller who was four-under-par after one round. Junior Billy Harvey eagled the fourth and 16th holes propelling him to a much needed three-under-par performance.
"I'm excited about how we played because we had such a terrible performance two weeks ago at the conference championships," Merizalde said."We found out the hard way that it's not good to try too hard at a big tournament. One of our goals coming in to regionals was to have fun, play relaxed and be patient. I think we did a good job playing relaxed and it showed today."
Merizalde was even after the first nine, but shot six birdies on the back nine. Merizalde, the 1999 WAC Champion as a freshman, and his fellow Cougars struggled at this year's Mountain West Championships finishing fifth.
BYU, who has more tournament victories than any other team in the country showed today why they are still deserving of their No. 6 ranking. BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank credited a more focused and relaxed mentality as the key to the Cougars' NCAA West Regional first round success.
"The difference between this week and two weeks ago is patience," Brockbank said. "After the way we played at the conference championships, it's nice to see these guys come out and perform. To have them bounce back the way they have is a big deal.They hit the ball well today and really did a good job of eliminated mental mistakes."
The Cougar hope to continue their momentum into the next two rounds on Friday and Saturday. The top ten teams from the West Regional advance to the NCAA Championships May 31-June 3 at Grand National Golf Complex in Opelika, Alabama. If the Cougars can hold on and advance, it will be their 25th appearance in the last 35 years. The Cougars have advanced out of the West regionals only four times out of the last 10 years.
1. Brigham Young -12
2. Arizona -8
3. Fresno State -7
4. Arizona State -7
5. Washington -5
BYU's Individual Scores
Manuel Merizalde 67
Andy Miller 68
Billy Harvey 69
Jose Garrido 72
Scott Miller 79
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