Broncos Third At MWs, Humphreys Wins
April 23, 2017
TUCSON, Ariz. - Boise State closed out a historic weekend at the Mountain West Championships Sunday on the Catalina Course of the Omni Tucson National Resort, finishing third in the team standings at 16-under, while freshman Brian Humphreys became the first Bronco to capture the Mountain West individual title, finishing at 12-under, two strokes ahead of teammate Donny Hopoi.
Humphreys also became the first freshman to capture Mountain West medalist honors, while his final score of 12-under (67-68-69=204) matches the second-best individual finish in the event's history. He is the fourth Bronco conference champion in program history, joining Danny Moore (1984, Big Sky), Ryan Deiro (1995, Big Sky) and Troy Merritt (2008, WAC).
With his win, Humphreys also earns an automatic invitation to NCAA Regionals, and will play at one of the six regional sites from May 15-17. The NCAA Division I Men's Golf Selection Show is scheduled for Thursday, May 4, at 10 a.m. MT on Golf Channel.
Humphreys will also become the sixth Bronco to compete at a NCAA Regional, with T.K. Kim (2013) being the most recent. His trip to regionals in three weeks will also mark the eighth regional appearance by a Bronco, joining David Lebeck (1993), Jarrod Warner (1998), Graham DeLaet (2003-04, 2006), Merritt (2008) and Kim.
"It's awesome, I couldn't ask for anything more. I think its especially gratifying that we did it, and I won as our team played really well," Humphreys said following his win. "It feels good when we all get up early for workouts together and push ourselves more and come together. It's awesome to see hard work pay off with your buddies."
Humphreys opened Sunday's final round atop the individual leaderboard at 9-under, and faced his first challenge early, falling to tie for third following a double bogey on the par-4 third hole. But he rebounded with three-straight birdies to return to the top of the field, and remained at 1-under heading into the final three holes. Hopoi, who fired a 5-under 67 Sunday, pulled into a tie with Humphreys at 10-under with three holes to go, but Humphreys sank a 20-footer for birdie on the par-4 16th, and cemented his victory with another birdie on No. 18. Hopoi carded pars on each of the final three holes to finish the tournament second at 10-under.
"That's [Brian's] strength as a player, his mental fortitude, and his maturity is way beyond his years. Its never easy to win a tournament like that. Being around the lead, playing in the last group, you know you'll face adversity at some point. He did at a place you wouldn't expect it to come," said Boise State head coach Dan Potter. "We walked the rest of the round and it was like [the double bogey] never happened. Brian bounced back with three birdies in a row and went from there. H got an unfortunate break on 13 but got away with par, and was rock solid the rest of the round. He knew where he stood on 16, knew he was tied, and knocked in a 20-foot birdie putt."
The tournament-closing birdie was also Humphreys' third in three days on the par-4 18th.
"To play the 18th hole 3-under for the tournament, I can't even tell you how good that is," Potter added.
Hopoi entered the final round fourth, and his 5-under 67 tied New Mexico's Gustavo Morantes for the low round of the day. The junior played bogey-free Sunday, making the turn at 2-under after birdies at No. 2 and No. 8. Hopoi made his run at Humphreys early on the back nine, carding three-straight birdies on Nos. 10-12 to pull even at 10-under, and carded pars on each of the final six holes.
"I'm so proud of Donny. Talent-wise he's had this in him all year but he hadn't quite gotten over that hump. For him to finally play well the last couple rounds and going into today, it was a big day," said Potter. "For him to go out and have no bogeys and shoot 67 and get in the mix and have a chance to win, he just played awesome down the stretch. We saw a different Donny this weekend and it was pretty special."
Humphreys and Hopoi became just the second pair of teammates to finish 1-2 at the Mountain West Championships. The only other time it happened was in 2012, when TCU's Johan de Beer captured medalist honors and teammate Julien Brun tied for second.
"You love to dream it up that way," Potter said about the 1-2 Bronco finish. "It wasn't until the 16th that Brian knew that was the case. and we don't know what Donny knew as he was just ahead of Brian on the course. Brian knew Donny made par on 18 and that he would have to make par to finish it off. It's that much cooler when its your teammate that you're neck-and-neck with down the stretch."
As a team, Boise State shot 5-under (283), finishing the event at 16-under (848), just two strokes back of champion UNLV and one behind runner-up Colorado State. The third-place finish is the program's top performance at the Mountain West Championships since joining the conference in 2011-12. The previous Mountain West bests for the team were sixth-place efforts in 2012 and 2015.
"Overall I'm super proud of all the guys. Obviously Brian and Donny played great to finish at 12- and 10-under, but it takes all five to be in the position that we were in to have a chance to win," Potter said. "We can't ask for more than that. To have a young group of guys there, you can coach them up all year to practice and play but you can't give them the experience like today of a final round, and playing in the final group for a championship. This weekend was great for the team to experience that today was huge."
Senior Kyle Mitsunaga closed out his Boise State career with a 1-under 71 Sunday, finishing the tournament tied for 22nd at 1-over (72-74-71=217). Mitsunaga, after being at 1-over at the turn Sunday, birdied Nos. 10 and 11, bogeyed No. 12, but got under par for the round with a birdie on No. 16.
"I couldn't be happier for Kyle. His round today was huge for us and for him, especially as a guy who hadn't been in the lineup as consistently as he was used to this season," said Potter. "Kyle still comes to this tournament and was everything you'd want a senior to be. He was an awesome leader with the guys, he brings everybody together and leads by example. For him to go 1-under in his last round as a Bronco was pretty special. That's what he's been all about for four years in everything that he does."
Freshmen Mason Schulze (72-74-76=222) and Connor Johnstone (71-75-77=223) finished Sunday at 4-over and 5-over, respectively. For the tournament, Schulze came in tied for 28th at 6-over while Johnstone closed his first Mountain West Championships appearance tied for 40th at 7-over.
"We've got some good young players and we knew that coming into this week," Potter noted. "These players are good because they've worked so hard all year and gotten better and better. I was watching a group this weekend that's come a long way in personal and competitive maturity on the course. It's most exciting to me to see their hard work pay off. We've known we have good players all year, and now maybe there's a few more people that know it."
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