Golfer Peter Kuest leads BYU into NCAA Regionals in hopes of continuing dream season

BYU golfer Peter Kuest has won five tournaments this season and leads the Cougars into the NCAA Regionals in Pullman, Wash., this week. | Photo courtesy of Nate Edwards, BYU photo.

Provo • BYU junior Peter Kuest made his first hole-in-one when he was 12 years old. Then he made another ace a few months later and figured he would rack up plenty more in his blossoming golf career.

Naturally, he hasn’t made another one since.

But that’s about all the golfer from Fresno, Calif., now 21, hasn’t accomplished since taking up the game as a youngster on family trips to Palm Springs, Calif., when all he cared about was pulling out a driver and seeing how far he could hit it.

He’s quick to add that he has made an albatross — 3-under-par on a single hole — twice in competition, which is rarer than a hole-in-one. He made twos on par-5 holes, feats which are also called double eagles.

“Those are a little better than two holes-in-one,” he said.

Kuest has won an amazing five collegiate golf tournaments this season, and, on March 6, he was named to the Arnold Palmer Cup team for the United States, one of the most prestigious appointments in U.S. college golf.

Kuest was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time and will compete for his country in a Ryder Cup-style event against a 12-member international team June 7-9 at the Alotian Club in Roland, Ark.

“That’s huge honor,” Kuest said. “I’m really thrilled to represent BYU and the U.S. in the event, which is really cool because Mr. Palmer did so much for the game of golf.”

BYU coach Bruce Brockbank called it a “fantastic opportunity” for Kuest and said it will be an experience he will never forget. Former BYU golfers Andy Miller and Clay Ogden played on past Arnold Palmer Cup teams, along with PGA Tour stars such as Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Graeme McDowell and Rickie Fowler.

Kuest will return to BYU for his senior season this fall, then hopes to become the Cougars’ next PGA Tour regular, joining the likes of Mike Weir, Daniel Summerhays, Zac Blair and Johnny Miller, who is partially responsible for mentoring Kuest when he was younger and persuaded him to sign with BYU — even though Kuest is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns the Provo school.

Kuest was heavily recruited out of Clovis West High, but surprisingly picked BYU and said he has “absolutely no regrets” about the decision.

“I just liked the place,” he said. “Just knowing the Miller family helped a lot as well. They had a big influence on me. I had a good feeling when I visited BYU, so I decided to make it happen.”

But what about the cold, snowy weather three to four months of the year that limits playing and practicing time?

“It is what it is,” said Kuest, who is also an accomplished skier. “You can sit around and complain about it all you want, or you can look for ways to practice and get better. You can go inside and work in the [indoor practice facility] on campus. You can always go down to St. George and practice there, if you want.”

Kuest said skiing provides a nice distraction and helps him get his mind right.

Of immediate concern for Kuest and the BYU golf team, however, is the NCAA’s Pullman (Wash.) Regional, a 54-hole tournament that began Monday at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club and runs through Wednesday. BYU shot an 8-under-par 272 and was tied for fourth with a couple of teams yet to finish the first round.

Kuest was cruising along nicely, but made a double bogey on his final hole and settled for a 1-under 69, which had him tied for 23rd. His BYU teammate, freshman Carson Lundell, carded a 64 and was tied for the clubhouse lead. BYU’s Rhett Rasmussen shot a 69, while Kelton Hirsch fired a 70 and Brock Stanger a 72.

The top five teams and the top individual not on those teams advance to the NCAA finals May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Cougars hope to make amends for a lackluster performance at the West Coast Conference championships, where they faded to fourth. Kuest tied for eighth at that event in Stockton, Calif., but was still named WCC Player of the Year after having won the school-record five tournaments since last fall.

“We expect to play well, for sure,” Kuest said last week. “We feel like we are one of the teams that should go to the nationals if we play well. We just have to put together three great rounds, and we will be back there again.”

Kuest was fifth at last year’s regional, then struggled at bit at the finals and tied for 121st.

BYU is in the regionals for the seventh consecutive year and 26th time overall since the NCAA began regional play in 1991.

BYU golfer Peter Kuest

• Three-time letter winner at Clovis West High School in the Fresno, Calif., area once shot a 10-under-par 62 in a prep tournament.

• Won the West Coast Conference tournament as a freshman in 2017 and had two other top-five finishes.

• Won the Nick Watney Invitational as a sophomore in 2018 and was fifth at the NCAA’s Norman (Okla.) Regional.

• Has won five tournaments as a junior this season, was named the WCC Player of the Year and made the United States team for the Arnold Palmer Cup international competition.