Junior Jake Ellison shot a career-low 64 to help BYU tie for sixth after two rounds at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ALBUQUERQUE -- After a No. 4 finish at the NCAA Championships last spring, the men's golf team returned to competition Friday at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate and tied for sixth place after two rounds with a team score of 585 (+9).
BYU begins the season with three returning mainstays from the regular rotation, including PING All-America second team selection Oscar Alvarez and Mountain West Conference individual champion Nick Becker.
Junior Jake Ellison emphatically started his season with a career-low 64 (-8) in the first round at the par-72 University of New Mexico Championship Course. Ellison's impressive opening has kept the Cougars near the top of the pack going into the final round, although leader UNLV has a comfortable 15-stroke cushion over BYU.
"I just played really solid and hit the ball in the right spots," Ellison said of his personal best round. "I didn't make any mistakes."
Ellison never scored over par in Round 1, and his performance included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 No. 10. He sent the 225-yard approach to within six feet of the pin and calmly tapped in the eagle putt. Ellison is tied for fifth at 2-under, three strokes behind leader Andres Gonzales of UNLV.
"Jake (Ellison's) score kept us where we're respectable," BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank said. "When a guy shoots 64 we like to play off that as much as we can."
Alvarez finished at even-par to tie for 12th place overall, while Becker shot over par in both rounds to fall to a tie for 68th at 8-over.
Also competing for the Cougars are junior Clay Ogden and sophomore Daniel Summerhays. Ogden enters the season having won the U.S. Amateur Public Links and earning an invitation to the 2006 Masters, and Summerhays recently returned from an LDS Church mission.
Ogden is tied for 54th at 6-over while Summerhays is tied with Becker at 68th.
"We showed signs of being good, but we also showed a lack of attention," Brockbank said. "The kids came in very confident that they can play with anyone in the country. I feel like we're pretty good, but we need to show improvement and maturity, especially with the way we handle adversity."
BYU will look to improve on the first two rounds as it concludes the tournament Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.