BYU struggles mightily again at NCAA golf championships; Ute golfer Kyler Dunkle tied for second place after opening with a 69

BYU’s golfers played worse when competing with all the other teams at the NCAA championships on Friday than they did playing solo on Thursday.

The Cougars are in last place among 30 teams after shooting a 30-over-par 318 in the “first round” of play at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.

The only positive is that the disappointing round BYU played Thursday — a 21-over-par 309 — while playing alone doesn’t look as bad now, compared to Friday’s disaster. BYU played its “third” round on Thursday because the school does not allow activities on Sunday, for religious reasons.

Meanwhile, Utah golfer Kyler Dunkle got off to a great start when the other 23 teams and those who qualified as individuals began the tournament Friday. Dunkle, a Colorado native and the first Ute golfer to play in the NCAA finals since Dustin Pimm in 2006, shot a 69 in the first round and is tied for second.

Dunkle made five birdies and two bogeys and played the Par-5s in 3-under par.

Also Friday, BYU junior Peter Kuest shot 77, junior Rhett Rasmussen shot 79, freshman Carson Lundell and sophomore Kelton Hirsch shot 81s and sophomore Brock Stanger added a non-counting 82.

An individual champion will be crowned after Monday’s fourth round. Then, the eight top teams advance to the match play portion of the tournament in the quest to be the team champion.

Thursday, the Cougars teed off one-by-one without markers (playing companions) after the other teams and individuals played practice rounds. Lundell shot 73, Stanger shot 77, Rasmussen shot 79, Hirsch shot 80 and Kuest added a non-counting 82.

“We played as a solo [alone] leading up to this tournament to try and get into a rhythm and I didn’t do a very good job with that today,” Rasmussen told USA Today after Thursday’s round. “I started off horribly, wasn’t playing my own game and got off to a bad pace. But [playing solo] wasn’t the reason. It’s just a good, tough course.”

BYU golfer Peter Kuest has won five tournaments this season and leads the Cougars into the NCAA Regionals at Stanford this week. | Photo courtesy of Nate Edwards, BYU photography.