Golf

Why BYU played its third round before the first round of the 2022 NCAA Championship


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The shortest round in college golf was played shortly after the longest round in college golf on Thursday.

Following the practice round for the 2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship – that took each team six-plus hours to complete – the third round of the championship began.

And no, that’s not a typo.

On a day where the other 29 teams competing for a national title at Grayhawk Golf Club played a practice round, BYU played not its first nor its second, but its third round.

Why? Because third-round play is scheduled for Sunday, a day where the Cougars don’t compete due to religious reasons. As soon as the morning practice rounds finished, BYU hit the course to play its third round on Thursday afternoon, just as the team did in 2019 and 2018 NCAA Championships. Each player went off as a single, and the round was completed in a little more than four and a half hours.

“There’s no way of really explaining it to people because like our coach said, there’s no other tournament in the world that’s going to allow people to play on a different day because of their religious beliefs like this,” said junior Cole Ponich, the first player out today for the Cougars. “It just goes to show how good the NCAA is. They’ve all come up to us, they made us feel like we belong to be playing, you know what I mean? It’s not like it’s felt all weird and you’ve got people giving us dirty looks, everyone from the NCAA has come up to all of us and told us good luck. It’s awesome.”

Their play shows they belong, too. Ponich started off 2 over through three holes but didn’t make another bogey over the final 15 holes. He got a shot back quickly on the par-5 4th hole and played the back 2 under to sign for a 1-under 69 to lead the way. As a team, the Cougars were 10 over after their first trip around the tricky desert track.

“We had a lot of practice rounds at Riverside about two weeks leading up to this just playing in singles getting ready for it,” explained Ponich of how the team has prepared to produce a normal rhythm in the unique round. “But still, it’s a little different when you start on the first tee, nobody else there to shake hands with or introduce yourself to.”

A two-time winner this year, first to start the year at the William H. Tucker Invitational and again to end the regular season at the PING Cougar Classic, the Cougars finished runner-up at the WCC Championship and added another four top-five finishes on their road to Grayhawk.

BYU now faces a quick turn around, with a first round tee time at 7:27 a.m. local time.



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