Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as last year. But it was close.

BYU’s men’s golf team, playing its “Sunday” round on Thursday at the NCAA golf championships, struggled again and posted a 21-over-par 309 at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. The Cougars shot a 24-over-par score last year in Stillwater, Okla., in their opening round.

The tournament’s first round, for the other 23 teams, begins Friday at the par-72, 7,550-yard layout in northwestern Arkansas. BYU played what will go in the books as its third round on Thursday because the school does not allow Sunday activities, for religious reasons.

The Cougars teed off one by one Thursday afternoon after the other 23 teams played practice rounds. In windy conditions, only freshman Carson Lundell did not struggle. The Lone Peak High product shot a 1-over-par 73.

Sophomore Utah State transfer Brock Stanger shot 77, while Pullman Regional champion Rhett Rasmussen ballooned to a 79. Former State Am champ Kelton Hirsch, a junior, shot 80 and the Cougars’ best player during the season, Peter Kuest, shot a disappointing 82.

If nothing else, the second straight horrible round should quiet critics who say the Cougars get an advantage starting the tournament early. Coach Bruce Brockbank has asked the tournament committee to at least allow the players to have a marker — a person who plays alongside them but doesn’t post a counting score — but his requests have fallen on deaf ears.

Pin positions and tees were how they will be in Sunday’s third round and the Cougars’ score will be officially posted after the third round concludes that afternoon.

BYU entered playing some of its best golf of the season, having placed second — two shots behind Texas A&M — at the regional last week in Pullman, Wash.