Freshman Jake Ellison helped the Cougars make the final cut with a two-over-par third round.
HOT SPRINGS -- BYU advanced to the final round of the NCAA Division I Golf Championship despite falling to eighth place after an 11-over-par third round on Thursday at the Homestead Resort's Cascades course.
The Cougars once again finished the day strong with four birdies and an eagle by freshman Jake Ellison, but it wasn't enough as the Cougars dropped five places in the standings into a tie for eighth place with Georgia Tech.
"Mentally, we weren't as strong today, but we were able to make some birdies coming in to finish strong and make it respectable," BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said."
UCLA jumped out in front of the pack after shooting the best round of the tournament, five-under-par 275. The Bruins, winners of the NCAA West Regional, now hold a five stroke lead over second-place Kentucky and a 14-shot lead over BYU. The Cougars (+21) are only six shots behind third-place California (+15) and five shots behind fourth place Arizona (+16) and Washington (+16). Only the top 15 teams advanced to Friday's final round. This was the first time the Cougars have advanced into the final round since 1999 when BYU finished ninth-place overall.
The long rough became a factor as BYU counted five double bogies and two triple bogies on the day. Ron Harvey Jr. had a particularly challenging bout with the U.S. Open-length rough. He was two over after 16 holes, but lost two balls on the seventeenth, forcing him to take a quadruple bogie and move him to six-over-par on the day. Ultimately, this misfortune caused the Cougars to lose three strokes on the day and move them from sixth to eigth-place.
"This is a challenging course, but I'm optimistic that we can come out tomorrow and hit the ball a little more consistently like we did the first day," Brockbank said. "These guys think we can win this tournament, so we're going to have to come out and finish our season off with some outstanding golf."
BYU, who returns its entire team next season, continues to gain valuable experience in one of amateur golf's biggest stages. Sophomore Oscar Alvarez led the Cougars on the day after going even par thanks to three birdies on the last five holes. Alvarez moved into a tie for 17th place individually while Freshman Jake Ellison, whose eagle on hole 16 helped him go two-over-par on the day, finished in 24th place. Junior Todd Miller had two birdies in the last three holes to finish the day four-over-par and in 32nd place. Harvey moved into a tie for 69th while Junior Greg Machtaler's five-over-par 75 third round moved him into a tie at 105.
Prior to Thursday's third round the Cougars' received a phone call message of encouragement and advice from BYU Alum and PGA pro Mike Weir. BYU will need a lot of help in order to catch UCLA and win the national championship on Friday. If the Cougars can come out and play well, they have a very good chance of finishing among the top five teams for the first time since 1986.
BYU hopes to move up the leader board when they tee off at 9:30 a.m. EST starting on the 10th hole on Friday. Follow the final round scores live on the internet at www.golfstat.com.
TEAM LEADER BOARD
1. UCLA (+7) 289-283-275--847
2. Kentucky (+12) 283-286-283--852
3. California (+15) 279-289-287--855
T4. Washington (+16) 289-282-285--856
T4. Arizona (+16) 292-281-283--856
6. Florida (+18) 285-289-284--858
7. Pepperdine (+20) 295-276-289--860
T8. Brigham Young (+21) 280-290-291--861
T8. Georgia Tech (+21) 289-285-287--861
10. Texas (+23) 288-286-289--863
11. Texas A&M (+27) 291-292-284--867
12. Georgia State (+29) 292-280-297--869
T13. Penn State (+30) 289-291-290--870
T13. Oklahoma State (+30) 292-289-289--870
T15. Georgia (+31) 285-302-284--871
T15. Purdue (+31) 292-285-294--871
T15. USC (+31) 284-298-289--871
Teams not advancing: Clemson (+32), New Mexico (+36), TCU (+37),
Arizona State (+39), Oklahoma (+39), Kent State (+41), Toledo (+44),
SMU (+47), Wichita State (+47), Vanderbilt (+51), North Carolina (+52),
Rhode Island (+72)
BYU INDIVIDUAL SCORES
T17. Oscar Alvarez 70-72-70--212
T24. Jake Ellison 70-72-72--214
T32. Todd Miller 69-73-74--216
T69. Ron Harvey Jr. 71-73-76--220
T105. Greg Machtaler 74-75-75--224