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May 10, 2004

BOULDER - The University of Colorado men's golf team qualified for the first seven NCAA Championship Regionals between 1989 and 1995, but then failed to make the next three.  The Buffaloes were again invited from 1999 through 2002, but were left on the outside looking in last year. 


This time, the extent of staying at home ends at one single year, as CU was one of 27 teams invited to participate in the NCAA Central Regional next week in West Lafayette, Ind. The Buffs enter as the No. 5 seed from the NCAA's District Five and the No. 10 seed overall in the Central Region.  The meet will take place May 20-22 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex on the Purdue University campus. 


It's the 23rd time the Buffaloes have been invited to the NCAA Championships, the 12th time in 16 years since the creation of regional play. 


Colorado is ranked No. 29 by GolfStat, and No. 32 by both the GCAA Coaches and Golfweek, as the Buffaloes have been in the top 40 all spring and are currently ranked as high as they have been all season.


Beginning with its first tournament win in nearly four years, a victory in the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz on March 22, Colorado has placed in the top five in four straight tournaments, the first time the Buffs have accomplished that since the spring of 1989.  CU followed its win in the Bay Area with a fourth place finish in its own CU-Stevinson Ranch Invitational, a runner-up effort at Purdue's Boilermaker Invitational, and then a tie for fifth at last month's Big 12 Championships.


The second place performance at Purdue is especially key, as the Buffs not only finished just two strokes behind host Purdue, CU played the course extremely well, the same facility that is hosting the NCAA Central Regional.  The 7,035-yard, par-72 layout was very much to the Buffs' liking, as Colorado finished 7-under par as a team for the meet with its senior captain, Kane Webber, claiming medalist honors with a 10-under-par 71-69-66?206 scorecard.


 "It is certainly gratifying to earn an invitation back to the NCAA Championships," said CU head coach Mark Simpson, who is taking a team to the NCAA's for the 15th time in his 28 seasons, the most by any coach in a single sport in Colorado history.  "We really believe our best is yet to come, and certainly hope we can redeem ourselves after a bit of a disappointing finish in the conference championships to show what we think is the true merit of our team this season."


Mark Wetmore has taken CU's cross country teams to 18 NCAA Championships, nine each by the men's and women's programs; Simpson broke a tie for the one-sport honor with Richard Rokos, as he has taken the Buff skiers on 14 (all consecutive) occasions.


Simpson says that his team's play at last month's Purdue meet could be a positive as well as a negative, as the Buffs beat nine of 10 teams then who will make the return trip for the regional.  "First, we have to guard against overconfidence since we did play so well there last time," he noted.  "We have to go in with the attitude of what we did there last time means nothing.  But the advantage is that we've seen the golf course and we know what it's like.  It'll help us reach the greens, and it'll help us figure out strategy on certain holes.  That kind of knowledge is invaluable."


The No. 5 seed out of the district is not necessarily a bad omen for the Buffs; CU's best finish, second, in 11 previous NCAA regional tournaments came in 1994, when the Buffs were a No. 5 seed.  Colorado has advanced to the NCAA Finals four times out of regional play, doing so in 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2002; the Buffs did so as the final team in the last two occasions. 


The Buffaloes will travel to Ardmore, Okla., on Thursday for the Perry Maxwell Intercollegiate, its final tune-up for the NCAA's.  Fellow senior Jeff Hanson and three of four sophomores, Edward McGlasson, Kenny Coakley, Blake Moore and/or Derek O'Neill will join Webber in the Colorado lineup.  The five that travel to The Maxwell will most likely represent CU at the NCAA's.


Colorado was 47-52-4 against the other 80 teams in the field, including a 20-20-3 mark against the other members of the field headed to Indiana.  One impressive note was that the Buffs only lost to three teams all season that did not get invited to the NCAA's.


Virginia Tech will host the NCAA Championship Finals in Hot Springs, Va.  Here is the field in the three regionals leading up to that meet, scheduled for June 1-4:



EAST REGIONAL (New Haven, Conn.): 1. Florida;  2. Clemson;  3. Georgia;  4. Georgia Tech;  5. South Carolina;  6. Augusta State;  7. Wake Forest;  8. Duke;  9. Tennessee;  10. North Carolina;  11. Louisiana State;  12. Georgia State;  13. Jacksonville State;  14. North Carolina State;  15. Alabama-Birmingham;  16. Auburn;  17. Vanderbilt;   18. Georgia Southern;  19. Penn State;  20. Georgetown;  21. Towson State;  22. Rhode Island;  23. Maryland;  24. Binghamton;  25. Yale;  26. Army;  27. Long Island University.


CENTRAL REGIONAL (West Lafayette, Ind.): 1. Oklahoma State;  2. Texas;  3. TCU;  4. Minnesota;  5. Oklahoma;  6. Kentucky;  7. Arkansas;  8. Kansas;  9. Tulsa;  10. Colorado;  11. SMU;  12. Texas Tech;  13. Kansas State;  14. Baylor;  15. Texas A&M;  16. Xavier;  17. Illinois;  18. Ohio State;  19. Purdue;  20. Kent State;  21. Wichita State;  22. Indiana;  23. Lamar;  24. Notre Dame;  25. Princeton;  26. Western Illinois;  27. Jackson State.


WEST REGIONAL (Sun River, Ore.): 1. UCLA;  2. Arizona State; 3. Arizona;  4. USC;  5. BYU;  6. California;  7. UNLV;  8. Washington;  9. New Mexico;  10. Pepperdine;  11. Colorado State;  12. Toledo;  13. Texas-El Paso;  14. Central Florida;  15. San Diego State;  16. Stanford;  17. UNC-Wilmington;  18. Furman;  19. Denver;  20. New Mexico State;  21. UC-Riverside;  22. UC-Irvine;  23. Coastal Carolina;  24. Long Beach State;  25. Louisiana-Monroe;  26. Loyola, Md.;  27. Wright State.


 CU History In The NCAA Regional

Season   Location            Finish   Score        

1988-89   McKinney, Texas         3rd/18   312-293-297?-902  

1989-90   Columbus, Ohio         15th/21   306-297-316?-919  

1990-91   Bartlesville, Okla.    16th/21   300-291-308?-899  

1991-92   McKinney, Texas      t-11th/21   307-301-294?-908  

1992-93   Columbus, Ohio         18th/21   314-302-301?-917  

1993-94   Oklahoma City, Okla.    2nd/21   285-288-280?-853  

1994-95   Montgomery, Texas      16th/21   292-306-299?-897  

1998-99   Columbus, Ohio         10th/21   300-307-290?-897  

1999-00   Victoria, Texas      t-18th/27   299-301-281?-881  

2000-01   Stillwater, Okla.      17th/27   298-300-300?-898  

2001-02   Little Rock, Ark.      10th/27   294-293-299?-886