Senior Greg Machtaler was one of three Cougars within striking distance of winning the Invitational. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BREMERTON -- The No. 15 BYU men's golf team carded a strong second round during the Opus NW Husky Invitational to overcome a day full of inconsistency to move up four spots to No. 2 after the first day of competition.
Three Cougars finished in the top-10 Monday. All-American Oscar Alvarez tallied a 73-68--141 to finish at 3-under to land in fourth place, just two strokes behind the leader, Taylor Wood of USC. Senior Greg Machtaler also carded a strong 70-72--142 to tie for fifth place. Sophomore Jake Ellison was only one stroke behind Machtaler with a 72-71--143, good enough for a three-way tie for seventh place.
"Whenever you have three guys with a chance to win, you're really lucky," BYU Coach Bruce Brockbank said. "I'd really like to see one of them win it."
But Brockbank was quick to point out the Cougars should be closer to leading the tournament with three Cougars playing so well. Brockbank said the team lacked consistency, especially on the back nine during the first round.
"We need to improve our mental toughness," he said. "We got frustrated and we just need to remember it's a game."
The Cougars got off to a rough start Monday morning. The team totaled a first round score of 371, to put it in sixth place out of ten teams. And for a team with high expectations for the season, like the Cougars, being No. 6 just wasn't good enough.
The tournament's unique format meant the all the Cougars needed to play well. The tournament features a unique format with each team using six golfers and counting the top five scores. Generally, tournaments feature a five-man team with the top four scores counting toward the team score.
Brockbank said counting five scores instead of four means a team needs to have greater depth and consistency among the entire team.
But as the fog began to dissipate, so did the Cougars' higher scores. They shaved eight strokes off their first round score during the second round.
Alvarez stroked a team-low 68 during the second round to help the Cougars make their move on the competition. Ellison and Machtaler each contributed with a 1-under and even par respectively during the second round to add to the Cougars' charge.
Alvarez and Ellison each carded an eagle to go along with their 14 combined birdies. Machtaler also added eight birdies of his own.
The Cougars are anxious for the third round and a chance to redeem themselves.
"We just need to get back to what we do best and improve," Brockbank said.
The third round of the Invitational promises to be competitive as only three strokes separate the No. 2 through No. 5 teams. The tournament can be followed live on golfstat.com when the tournament resumes Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. PT.
Fin. Team Scores
1 Southern California 356-359--715 (-5)
2 Brigham Young Univ. 371-363--734 (+14)
3 Coastal Carolina 370-365--735 (+15)
4 UC-Irvine 368-368--736 (+16)
T5 Minnesota 366-371--737 (+17)
T5 Washington 367-370--737 (+17)
7 UC Davis 373-371--744 (+24)
8 Oregon State U. 381-377--758 (+38)
9 Washington State U. 376-393--769 (+49)
10 San Diego State 389-382--771 (+51)
Fin. Golfer Scores
4 Oscar Alvarez 73-68--141 (-3)
T5 Greg Machtaler 70-72--142 (-2)
T7 Jake Ellison 72-71--143 (-1)
T36 Ron Harvey Jr. 77-76--153 (+9)
T44 Todd Miller 80-76--156 (+12)
T54 Clay Ogden 79-80--159 (+15)