Tolan Now 44th At NCAA Golf Finals
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, slipped down the standings a bit here Thursday but is very much in contention to make the 54-hole cut heading into Friday's third round.
Tolan, from Highlands Ranch, has a 36-hole total of 151, or 7-over par, after recording a 77 in the second round. That came on the heels of an opening 74 that had him tied for 10th in the standings.
His 5-over effort on the 7,450-yard, par-72 Kampen Course at the Birk Boilermaker Golf Complex saw him end the midway point of the tournament tied for 44th place. The top 15 teams (90 players) and the top six individuals not on those teams will make the cut Friday and advance into Saturday's fourth and final round.
It has been 21 years since the last Buffalo who played as an individual in the NCAA Finals has made the cut.
"He actually did a pretty good job of keeping things together," head coach Roy Edwards said. "He was five-over after 11 holes, and kind of just hung in there the rest of the way. He obviously didn't play his best, but he did a good job just to shoot a 77. This is the kind of golf course you have to have pinpoint accuracy with all of your game. If you're off, and even a little bit, you run the risk of getting exposed."
Tolan started on No. 10, and bogeyed Nos. 11, 14 and 17 to turn at 3-over. On the 165-yard, par-3 No. 2 he suffered a double bogey to rise to 5-over. He parred No. 3 and then birdied No. 4 before bogeying No 5, another par-3. In fact, the short holes have been his nemesis this week, as he had three pars, four bogeys and the one double to stand at 6-over on the eight par-3s, while he's played the other 28 holes at 1-over.
"I just hit it bad today, it was really nothing else, no other way I can say it," Tolan said. "I just didn't play well, and on a course like this, if you don't play well, you are totally exposed. You can't hide it, there's no ham-and-egging out here."
Why is the Kampen layout so tough and playing to an average score of 77.2? There hasn't been much mowing. The rough measures from 3 to 6 inches high just off the fairways, and second and third cuts are close to knee high. So keeping it on the fairway is premium.
"I avoided big numbers for the most part, other than on No. 2, which I am proud of," Tolan said. "That was the case with a lot of guys the first day, if you're not on your game, it's pretty easy to shoot 80 or higher here."
He didn't have an explanation of why he was struggling on the par-3s, and didn't really realize it, other than to say, "My iron play has been poor in my estimation. I've hit it in two hazards on par-3s and that made par impossible. But now that I know it, I'll see what I can do about it and try to play them under par (tomorrow).
"It was fortunate I played in the morning (Thursday), because I was able to get in two good hours of practice after the round, so I feel good about things going into tomorrow," Tolan added.
If the qualifications to make the cut were applied after the second round, Tolan would stand tied as the 15th individual. Though out of the top six at this juncture, he's just three strokes out of advancing. But that will only hold if the top 15 teams remain the same, which is highly unlikely.
No. 10 Clemson recorded the best round of the tourney, an even par 288, and jumped into the lead with a 13-over par 589 team score. No. 5 UCLA (590) and No. 1 Southern California (591) are right there, but several teams remain in the hunt, with just nine strokes separating the top nine teams.
"He had a real good practice session following his round," Edwards added. "If he can keep it in the fairway and get on the green as soon as he can, he'll play well like he did Wednesday. I really believe if he does that, he'll make the cut."
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 tied for 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.
Of the six individuals here without their teams, Tolan is second and thus gets an early tee time (6:55 a.m. MDT off No. 10) for the second straight day. "I like playing in the morning," Tolan said. "I am a lot fresher, and there's just less time to think about things."
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS
1. Billy Horschel, Florida................. 72-69?139
2. Kyle Stanley, Clemson................ 72-68?140
3. Nick Taylor, Washington........... 75-66?141
4. Kevin Chappell, UCLA................ 69-73?142
4. Hudson Swafford, Georgia....... 73-69?142
6. Tim Sluiter, USC............................ 70-73?143
7. Joel Sjoholm, Georgia State...... 72-72?144
8. Jorge Campillo, Indiana............. 75-70?145
8. Chris DeForest, Illinois............... 75-70?145
10. David Markle, Kent State............ 70-76?146
44. Derek Tolan, Colorado........ 74-77?151