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Mar 22, 2004

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The University of Colorado men's golf team matched its third lowest single round score in its history and used it to vault into a tie for the lead Monday after the first two rounds of the 58th Annual Western Intercollegiate.


The Buffs, ranked No. 45 in the latest Golfstat rankings (No. 47 in Golfweek) shot a 4-under par 276 in the second round, and when combined with a 286 in the first 18, Colorado has a share of the lead at 2-over 562 with No. 4 Georgia Tech and No. 16 California.  First round leader UC-Riverside is in fourth at 566 in the 15-team field that features six top 50 teams.


Colorado is thus bidding to win its first tournament since the fall of 2000, when it won the rain-shortened Colorado State Ram Intercollegiate, which it won two straight years under the same circumstances.  The Buffs last win in a 54-hole event came in February 1999 in the Southwestern Classic in Victoria, Texas.   


The 276 score by the Buffs tied for the third best single round in school history, trailing a 271 in the 1979 Oklahoma City All-College Classic and a 275 in the 1999 CSU Intercollegiate.


"We're in contention to win, and this is something that this team hasn't experienced, so it'll be a whole new ball game (Tuesday) for us," said CU head coach Mark Simpson.  "But each one of the guys is a grinder, so I'm looking forward to see how they respond.  It'll be a fun day and will tell us a lot in regards to where we are."


The Buffs are doing the damage with four sophomores in their five-man lineup, but their senior captain is leading the way.


Kane Webber recorded a 3-under par 67 in the afternoon, and combined with his 71 in the morning, his 2-under 138 total is pacing the Buffaloes and has him two shots out of the lead.  California's Peter Tomasulo is the individual leader, as he turned in a 70-66?136 scorecard to lead Webber and two others by two shots heading into Tuesday's final round.


The Buffs are the only team with four players in the top 20 and all five in the top 40 through two rounds.  Georgia used three top eight efforts while Cal rode Tomasulo's effort to counter those by the Buffs as all three schools will play together in the final round.


The CU sophomores collectively have turned in their best first two rounds of a meet this season.  Derek O'Neill and Edward McGlasson are tied for 12th at 1-over 141 (both with even and 1-over par rounds), while Kenny Coakley, who came back with a 68 after an opening 75, is tied for 20th at 143 and Blake Moore is in a most respectable 39th-place tie after a 74-73?147 performance on the 6,445-yard, par-70 Pasatiempo Golf Club course layout.


The Buffaloes were fourth after the morning round, seven strokes back of UC-Riverside, the only school to break par in the morning with a 1-under 279.  Only seven players were under par in the first round, with another nine, including O'Neill, coming in at even par.  Three Buffs were in the top 20 after 18 holes, as O'Neill was tied for eighth and Webber and McGlasson for 17th.   O'Neill had it 3-under at one point, but double-bogeyed his next to last hole.


"We played solid today, definitely our best 36-hole day of the year," Simpson said.  "It's certainly one of the tougher golf courses we'll play this year.  The conditions were pristine, but it being a tough golf course, it's definitely a good sign for the Buffs, especially since we've been playing mediocre this spring.


This is CU's fourth meet of the spring.  Simpson attributed Monday's performance to the play of O'Neill.  "The biggest key is Derek stepping up and playing like we thought he could.  He's been going through a swing change, and it's just starting to pay dividends now. 


"The other plus for the team goes back to the 67 Jeff (Hanson) shot in Hawaii," Simpson continued.  "He had a problem closing out rounds, seemingly always under par but it would get away from him.  But he got it under par, finished strong and finally closed one.  So that was a good sign that he could do it, and it was a message for the whole team since it was a breakthrough, and then Derek doing this and Edward also being in contention.  We know what Kane can do, and he scored well today despite battling some swing problems here and there.  We also know what Kenny can do, so it's nice to see him heading back in the right direction.  He fell off a bit in our last tournament, so we have a lot of good things happening right now.  We just need to maintain and build on it, and hopefully peak at the right time when the conference championships roll around next month."


It's the fourth time CU is competing in the Western, the oldest men's college golf tournament west of the Mississippi.  The Buffs best finish here also came in their last appearance, finishing 10th in 1992.


The final round will be played at 9 a.m. (MST) Tuesday morning.  The team will then remain in California (it's spring break at CU) and host its own Colorado-Stevinson Ranch Invitational next Monday and Tuesday in Stevinson, Calif.


Buffalo Individuals

T 2. Kane Webber......... 71-67--138

T12. Derek O'Neill....... 70-71--141

T12. Edward McGlasson.... 71-70--141

T20. Kenny Coakley....... 75-68--143

T39. Blake Moore......... 74-73--147


Team Scores

 1. COLORADO........... 286-276--562   

 1. California......... 284-278--562

 1. Georgia Tech....... 284-278--562

 4. UC-Riverside....... 279-287--566

 5. Long Beach State... 288-282--570

 6. Kansas............. 287-286--573

 7. Fresno State....... 288-286--574

 8. Colorado State..... 290-286--576

 9. Texas-El Paso...... 288-291--579

10. San Jose State..... 300-280--580

11. Santa Clara........ 295-286--581

12. Pacific............ 288-295--583

13. UC-Santa Barbara... 292-292--584

14. San Francisco...... 304-306--610

14. Hawaii............. 305-305--610