May 1, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
They played their best round of the season when they most needed it. The Wyoming Cowboys shot a two-under par round of 286 on Wednesday at the Mountain West Conference Men's Golf Championship to finish in fifth place. Wyoming sophomore Mike Mezei shot a one-under par round of 71 to tie for sixth, and UW senior Mike Urbatchka fired a two-under par final round of 70. Urbatchka tied for 17th and was selected by MWC head coaches to the All-Conference team. The Pokes shared their fifth-place team finish with Colorado State.
Wyoming began Wednesday's final round in eighth place in the eight-team field, but the Cowboys fired not only their best round of the 2001-02 season but also posted the second lowest round of the tournament. Being paired with No. 21 ranked San Diego State in the final round benefitted both the Cowboys and Aztecs. SDSU posted the lowest round of the tournament with a four-under par 284, and UW posted their best team round of the season at 286. UW's move from eighth place to fifth was the largest move up the standings by any team on Wednesday. Wyoming's previous best round of the 2001-02 season was a 288 at the Wichita State Shocker Classic in early April.
Mezei's sixth-place showing tied for the best finish in his career. He also placed sixth at the Campbell University Intercollegiate as a freshman. Urbatchka's final round of two-under par 70 tied him for the second lowest round of the day and also enhanced his chances of earning a bid to the NCAA Regionals. He vaulted 15 spots in the final round, from a tie for 32nd entering Wednesday to his 17th-place showing. In addition to Mezei and Urbatchka's subpar rounds, UW freshman Matthew Brunk posted a career best round of 71, one-under par. Brunk tied for 13th place.
UNLV captured the 2002 MWC Championship with a team score of 867, three-over par. It was the Rebels second men's golf title in the three-year history of the conference. UNLV led the tournament from wire-to-wire, holding a three-stroke lead after the opening round and a two-stroke lead heading into the final round. New Mexico finished second at 869. The Lobos were only two strokes out of the lead heading into Wednesday's final round, but couldn't make up any ground on the Rebels.
Martin Laird of Colorado State posted a round of 70 in the final round to capture the MWC individual crown with a 54-hole total of 212, four-under par. He began Wednesday's round two shots back of San Diego State's Mark Warman. Warman finished in a tie for second with UNLV's J.C. Deacon at one-under par 215.
"I really like the fact that we fought back in that final round," said University of Wyoming men's golf coach Joe Jensen. "We took the attitude into the final round that we were just as good as anyone out there. The first two rounds we couldn't make the kind of move up the standings that we wanted to, but with all the teams grouped so closely together heading into Wednesday we knew we could still make a move with a good round of golf.
"It was great to see our guys play neck-and-neck with a Top 25 team in the final pairing. San Diego State came in as the pre-tournament favorite. (SDSU was ranked 21st in the country heading into the tournament.) We finished the day only two strokes behind them and with the second lowest round of the week.
"Mike Mezei had an outstanding week in only his sophomore season, finishing in sixth. I'm so happy for Mike Urbatchka. He's our only senior, and he knew that with a good tournament this week he had an excellent opportunity to be selected to the NCAA Regionals. He really stepped up big in that final round to keep himself in strong contention for the NCAAs. And Matthew Brunk, what a great tournament for a freshman. He ended up in the Top 15, and shot an outstanding one-under par round the final day.
"We have four of the five members of this team coming back, and the way we ended the season should give us a lot of confidence in the future."
Wyoming's fifth-place finish was its best in the three years of the Mountain West Conference. The Pokes placed seventh each of the previous two seasons. Mezei's sixth-place showing was also the highest individual placing for a Cowboy at the MWC Men's Golf Championship. The previous best individual finish was by former Cowboy David Hearn, who tied for eighth as a junior in 2000.
All eight MWC member schools sponsor men's golf. The format for the tournament was 54 holes.
UNLV won the inaugural men's golf title in the 1999-2000 season, and BYU won the team title in the 2000-01 season.
The 2002 MWC Men's Golf Championship was played on the Crosswater Course at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore. The Crosswater Course measured 7,188 yards and played to a par of 72.
Wyoming Individual Results Class Scores Place
Mike Mezei (Lethbridge, Alberta) So. 72-75-71=218 (+2) Tie 6thMatthew Brunk (Fort Collins, Colo.) Fr. 76-73-71=220 (+4) Tie 13thMike Urbatchka (Sheridan, Wyo.) Sr. 77-74-70=221 (+5) Tie 17thJonathan Shuss (Scottsdale, Ariz.) Fr. 73-75-74=222 (+6) Tie 20thKurt Kowaluk (Lively, Ontario) Jr. 75-78-77=230 (+14)Tie 38th
1. UNLV 288-289-290=867 (+3)2. New Mexico 292-287-290=869 (+5)3. BYU 291-289-293=873 (+9)4. San Diego State 293-297-284=874 (+10)5. Wyoming 296-297-286=879 (+15) Colorado State 301-291-287=879 (+15)7. Air Force 292-287-302=881 (+17)8. Utah 298-292-295=885 (+21)