PROVO -- The BYU men's golf team escapes snowy Provo this week as it heads to Hawaii for the John A. Burns Invitational Feb. 18 - 20, the team's first action of the spring season.
The Cougars will compete against a tough field of 19 teams during the three-day tournament, hosted by the University of Hawaii. BYU ended the fall season on a high note, finishing third at The Prestige in La Quinta, Calif. in November.
BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank expects the Cougars to do well, even after a three-and-a-half month layoff.
"This is going to be very competitive," Brockbank said. "But I am optimistic about our chances. I think we will be in contention to win the tournament."
The Cougars will take a talented squad of juniors Todd Miller and Greg Machtaler, sophomore Oscar Alvarez, and freshmen Jake Ellison and Clay Ogden. Two Cougars will also compete as individuals: Ron Harvey, Jr. and Clay Bingham.
BYU has fared well at the John A. Burns in the past. Last year the Cougars finished 8th, and in 2000 the team ran away with the whole tournament, finishing at 34 under par and beating Arizona by a hefty nine strokes. A younger Miller finished at 207, nine under par in the 2000 tournament.
BYU enters the tournament ranked 19th in the nation by golfweek.com, sandwiched between some of this week's competition: New Mexico and Colorado State. The Cougars will also compete against UNLV (10), California (15) and Arizona (28).
The team will play at the Leilehua Golf Course in Schofield Barracks, a par-72 course measuring 6,916 yards. BYU will play 18 holes each day of the tournament, beginning on Wednesday and finishing up on Friday.
The John H. Burns Invitational will draw the following schools: Arizona, California, Colorado, Colorado State, Denver, Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo, Nagoya University, New Mexico, Pacific, San Diego State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Southern Methodist, Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara, UNLV, Utah, and UTEP.
Brockbank said the team will take advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the temple and the Polynesian Cultural Center.