Golfers Ready For Big 12 Championships
TULSA, Okla. - The University of Colorado men's golf team has had to overcome a lot in 2005-06, but arrived here this weekend with a goal of honoring late head coach Mark Simpson still intact.
The Buffaloes, ranked No. 51 in the nation (GolfStat; 52 by Golfweek), will compete in the 10th Annual Big 12 Conference Championships here Monday and Tuesday. Once again one of the premier collegiate golf conferences, this year's meet boasts five consensus top 25 and 10 top 75 teams in the field.
Simpson, who passed away last December 5 after a yearlong battle with lung cancer, loved the conference championship tournament more than any other meet over the course of the year. And he never wanted it on an easy golf course, rather on one that would offer the stiffest of challenges to his team and the overall field.
Southern Hills Country Club, the site of three past PGA Championships, as well as the 2007 event next summer, will present the kind of test Simpson always liked in a league championship event. The 7,055-yard, par-70 tree-lined layout is known for its tough greens and can be very unforgiving overall.
When the Big 12 Championships were held here in 2003, there were only two subpar scores and two even-par efforts in the 180 rounds posted by the 60-man field. Texas won with a team score some 54 strokes over par for the 54-hole meet, and no team posted any single round lower than 13-over.
Dave Stockton (1970, -1), Raymond Floyd (1982, -8) and Nick Price (1994, -11) are the three professionals who captured the PGA meet on the course, posting just five subpar rounds among them combined en route to their wins.
Simpson's passing and the surprise resignation of interim coach Brad Neher just last Friday hasn't been easy on the team, which is being handled by three CU administrators at present, but the goal of honoring Simpson this spring is still attainable. They wanted to honor his memory and add to his legacy, one sure way being to capture this very meet, a title that eluded Simpson in his 29 years as head coach and one that CU has not won as a school since 1968, when it was held in Boulder.
The Buffs are also bracing for heat they haven't had to endure since last summer, as the temperature Monday is forecast to reach the 90-degree range, with 60 percent humidity. In addition, thunderstorms could come into play after 3 p.m. local time, which could make for an already long day with two rounds even longer.
The field got a taste of what the conditions could be like Sunday in the practice round, with the mercury reaching 88 degrees with 50 percent humidity for an overall muggy outing.
Edward McGlasson, ranked No. 32 in the nation individually by GolfStat (No. 43 by Golfweek), is among the many favorites for the individual title here. A 21st place finish in the Texas A&M Invitational last week snapped strings of eight straight top 20 and six straight top 10 finishes by the CU senior. McGlasson is playing in his fourth Big 12 Championship, and is the only Buffalo on the trip who has previous experience playing the course, as he finished 19th as a freshman on the layout in 2003.
While CU has played one of the tougher schedules leading up to the league championships than many of its colleagues, and while the Buffs have one win and four top five finishes in nine tournaments to date, there have been disappointments in other outings, including just last week at the Texas A&M meet when CU finished 10th in a 12-team field, a competition that included 10 top 50 teams nationally.
"We haven't done what we planned on doing this year, but I believe we have all the capabilities of going out and playing our best golf (this week)," McGlasson said.
McGlasson leads the team in stroke average per round (72.59), as he is flirting with finishing his career with one of the top three ever posted at the school.
Joining CU's No. 1 man in Tulsa, in playing order, are redshirt freshman Derek Tolan, senior Kenny Coakley, junior Ryan Anderson and true frosh Diego Munoz.
Simpson brought two freshmen to a league championship event several times, and even had three represent the school as recently as 2003. The last Buffalo to win conference medalist honors was Bobby Kalinowski, who walked away with the crown in both 1993 and 1994. While McGlasson has a shot at that prize, certainly any of the other four could rise up and challenge for medalist honors as well, though the talk here has strictly been what they want to accomplish as a team.
Competition begins at 7 a.m. (MDT) Monday, with 36 holes set for the first day and 18 to close the event Tuesday. The Buffs open the meet paired with Missouri and Kansas State and begin on the No. 1 tee at 7:50 a.m. Monday.