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BYU's coach frets -- needlessly, as usual

CHASKA, Minn. -- About an hour before the end of BYU's round Thursday, coach Bruce Brockbank was worried as he fired questions at a reporter sitting by the No. 7 green.

"How's everybody else doing? Where do we stand? Are we going to make the cut?Brockbank had just witnessed a string of three-putts by his players and felt they were "giving away shots."

As it turned out, he had little reason to worry. While the Cougars might have been slipping a little at the time, they righted themselves and played the final six holes two-under par as a team to move up to second place, just one shot behind Clemson.

That's the way it's been all season. While Brockbank worries, his confident players just go out and shoot low scores.

Brockbank has even called them "cocky," but he doesn't mean it in a negative way. "I'm dealing with some kids who are really confident," he says.

Perhaps the coach is a bit cautious about his team's chances this week because the Cougars haven't even made it to nationals in six years, since his first year as the BYU coach.

Brockbank said he learned something from last year when he practiced his team too hard between the conference championships and the regionals.

"The best thing I did this year was stay out of their way," he said.

The players all seem to get along very well with the two Miller brothers (Scott and Andy), the two Colombians (Manuel Merizalde and Jose Garrido) and Billy Harvey, a laid-back sophomore from Las Vegas, who is called "Harvey-nator" by his teammates.

After their round Thursday, the players ate lunch together, had a putting contest on the practice green and later relaxed at the giant Mall of America, which is across the street from the team's hotel.

"We've got to come out and battle this golf course like we have the first two days," said Brockbank about the last two rounds.

"Our team is really confident," said Andy Miller. "I don't see any reason why we shouldn't win if we keep playing well."

NCAA NOTES: The crowd for each of the first two days was announced as 2,000, and the fans should keep coming out the final two days with Minnesota barely making the cut. The Gophers' 608 total left them in a tie for 12th with Florida, Washington and Illinois for the final spot, 18 shots behind the leader. Coincidentally, Minnesota was tied for 12th last year after two rounds, 18 shots behind the leader, before going on to finish 7th . . . Two of the most prominent players in the field, Georgia Tech's Matt Kuchar and Bryce Molder, are gone as the Yellowjackets made a quick exit by finishing 28th in the 30-team field . . . Besides Kuchar, the Masters low amateur in 1998, and Molder, the nation's No. 1-ranked player, going out early, several other top collegians aren't on hand this week. Neither Stanford's Joel Kribel, ranked No. 5 in the nation, nor Texas' David Gossett, the No. 2-ranked player, qualified . . . Colorado State's Darrin Overson, a native of Orem and the current Utah State Amateur champion, played well Thursday in shooting 73, but his team was eliminated from the tourney . . . So much for easy opening holes. The toughest hole on the 7,196-yard Hazeltine course so far has been the 440-yard No. 1 hole, which has yielded only 12 birdies.