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Cougar golfers lose, but future is looking bright

If there's any silver lining for the BYU golf team after its disappointing seventh-place finish Saturday at the NCAA golf championships, it's this -- the future looks extremely bright.

All five players from this year's Cougar team will be back along with several players who just missed making the traveling team. Also, the team's high finish will undoubtedly help in getting some blue-chip recruits that the Cougars are after."We're going to be pretty tough next year," said coach Bruce Brockbank. "We're only going to get better. There's a lot of exciting things ahead for these five kids and we have two or three at home who will push us along.

"Last year we talked about doing better at the (NCAA) regionals. This year we'll talk about doing better at the NCAA tournament."

The Cougars hadn't qualified for the NCAA tournament in six years, so a seventh-place finish was a plus, especially considering that the Cougars were the 11th -seeded team in the tourney. Still the confident Cougars expected to do better.

"We were looking to win and we had the opportunity," said Andy Miller. "But this was my first and everybody else's first national championship. With everybody coming back next year it's a great outlook. We have nothing but good to look forward to."

Besides the five golfers who played this week, the Cougars have several other players who are pushing the regulars and could sneak into the top five next year. Todd Miller, the youngest of the Miller brothers, had a fine freshman season and just missed making the top five. His father, Johnny, has said Todd has the most potential of all his sons.

Todd is considering leaving on an LDS mission, but may postpone it for a year so he can play another year with his brothers. Scott, the oldest, who is a returned LDS missionary, will be a junior, while Andy will be a senior.

Cougar golfers who have eligibility next year include Shaun Jepsen of Bountiful and Jesse Hibler of Boise, who will be a seniors, and Kyle Wight of Brigham City, Berg Crawford of Orem and Ollie Nissinen of Finland, who will all be sophomores.

The Cougars have signed one player, Clay Bingham of Spanish Fork, who will likely go on an LDS mission before playing next year and are looking a couple of more players, including one from Canada and one from England.

LATE RAINS: At least it waited until the tournament was over. A little more than an hour after the last group finished Saturday, severe weather hit Hazeltine National and the whole Minneapolis area. Torrents of rain came down and appropriately enough, golf-ball sized hail was reported in the nearby town of Shakopee and the entire Twin Cities area was under a Tornado Watch for several hours.

COUGAR HONORS: Although it's not official until Monday, look for BYU to get three of its players named to all-American teams. Andy Miller, who was a third-team selection each of the last two years, should move up to second team this year, while Billy Harvey and Jose Garrido will likely be honorable mention selections.