Tolan Tied For 10th At NCAA's
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - University of Colorado junior Derek Tolan, representing the Buffaloes as an individual in the 111th Annual NCAA Men's Golf Championship Finals, got off to a fine start here Wednesday as he completed his first round of play tied for 10th place, recording a 2-over par 74.
Tolan is the first Buff golfer to compete in the NCAA Finals since 2002, when the entire team qualified and tied for 14th, and he's the first to qualify individually since 1993. Since the NCAA went to a 72-hole, all stroke play format for the finals, nine Buffs have qualified individually, with four making the cut, topped by the legendary Hale Irwin who claimed medalist honors in 1967.
The last Buffalo to make the cut individually was John Lindberg in 1987, who went on to tie foe 13th overall. Steve Jones tied for 10th in 1981, leading CU to an 11th place team finish, and Bill Musselman tied for eighth in 1968, when CU tied for eighth as a team. Those three efforts along with Irwin's win and a 10th place finish in 1966 are the best by Buff golfers over the last 50 years and is a group Tolan hopes to join this week.
"I thought he did a real good job today," head coach Roy Edwards said. "He played well on the front nine, but he had bogeys on both par 5s on the back and that kind of halted his momentum. So overall he and I know he could have certainly played better, but he's right there. His game plan was to get into the fairway as a soon as possible and get on to the green as soon as possible, and he really kept to his game plan and kept a level head about things."
The first round took just under six hours (5:45) to play, but it had little effect on Tolan, who recorded four birdies (tied for the sixth most in the first round), and tied for third in par-4 scoring, playing the 10 par-4 holes even on the day.
"This course is real hard and with everyone bunched up, it made for a slow-go," Edwards said of the 7,450-yard, par-72 Kampen Course at the Birk Boilermaker Golf Complex. "But while it was slow, it didn't feel slow. We never had a long wait on any hole, just a few moments here or there so it wasn't a big deal. And there are points out here where you don't mind having more time to think through exactly what you want to do. Patience is important."
Tolan is one of 14 players tied for 10th, five strokes out of the lead. UCLA's Kevin Chappell shot the only round in the 60s to open play, a 3-under 69. Only two others broke par (a pair of 2-under 70s), with three matching par and three others recording 1-over 73s. The average score for the 156 players in the field was 78.9, with 57 players shooting 80 or higher including a pair of 90s.
"Honestly, I was extremely nervous, I'm not going to lie," Tolan said of his first appearance in the NCAA Finals. "On the first hole, I noticed a different feeling because I am playing for so much more than myself out there. I take pride in representing the university, so I am not just playing for myself. But I settled down pretty quickly, and to do that, I knew I had to hit some good shots and fortunately they came quick. I made a lot of putts at first that kept me in it. I played pretty solid for the most part, other than a couple of hiccups here and there."
In 2002 as a 16-year old, Tolan played in the U.S. Open at Bethpage, N.Y. He was asked to compare the two experiences.
"I was definitely more nervous back then," he said. "But it was two different kinds of nervous. It was more of an anxious nervousness today; the U.S. Open was more terrifying. But I overcame it both times and hit my (first) drive into the fairway. Sometimes that's when you play your best golf." Tolan scored a par on his first hole Wednesday (No. 1), scoring three birdies and three bogeys en route to a 36 on the front nine and registering a 38 on the back side for his 74.
Top ranked Southern California and No. 5 UCLA are tied for the team lead at 9-over 297; No. 4 Oklahoma State is one back at 298, with No. 10 Clemson and No. 27 Kent State tied for fourth at 301.
Tolan played in the afternoon Wednesday and only six players finished up after his threesome was through; on Thursday, he'll go out much earlier, starting on No. 10 at 6:55 a.m. All players will be repaired for Friday's third round, after which the field will be cut to the low 15 teams and top six individuals not among those squads, including the six individuals who qualified out of regional play to advance here.
OTHER CU GOLF NOTES: The Golf Coaches Association of America announced the PING All-Region teams Wednesday, and three Buffaloes were named to the Central team. Joining Derek Tolan on the squad were senior Michael Baird and sophomore Luke Symons. The teams consist of the top 15 individuals in their region in the Individual Ranking System. Additionally, any player ranked in the top 75 according to Golfstat or the Sagarin rankings not included in their region's top 15 are added to their All-Region team. Members of the PING All-Region teams are eligible for PING All-America honors ... Former CU women's golfer Erin (Kerr) Houtsma shot a 1-under par 71 Wednesday to take a one shot lead in the Colorado Women's Open at Green Valley Ranch; she won the event in 2005.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS
1. Kevin Chappell, UCLA....................... 34-35?69
2. David Markle, Kent State.................. 35-35?70
2. Tim Sluiter, USC.................................. 35-35?70
4. Billy Horschel, Florida........................ 35-35?72
4. Joel Sjoholm, Georgia State............. 39-33?72
4. Kyle Stanley, Clemson....................... 38-34?72
7. Trent Leon, Oklahoma State........... 34-39?73
7. Webb Simpson, Wake Forest......... 35-38?73
7. Hudson Swafford, Georgia.............. 40-33?73
10. Derek Tolan, Colorado.............. 36-38?74
(13 others tied at 2-over 74)