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Slice of Levy-ty: Buffs Up To Challenge At Pac-12s

Apr 26, 2012

Jon Levy is in his first year as the assistant coach of the CU men's golf team. He has an impressive resume which includes experience in golf, coaching, marketing and communications. He has been a head coach at two junior colleges in Arizona, coaching one to a NJCAA national championship. Prior to coming to CU, he worked for a year was the associate editor at the Golf Channel for the organization's website, where he had duties as both an editor and a writer. He also was the director of communications for the Gateway Tour, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., for three years (2007-10), where he handled all media relations, writing, communication and public relations functions. In his last year with the Gateway Tour, he also served as the head coach at Paradise Valley Community College.

It's go time. Time to put up or shut up. Time to lay down your cards for the world to see and remain confident that what you've got is good enough to win.

On Friday, in the Oregon State Beavers' backyard, the Buffs tee off in their first ever Pac-12 Tournament.- A grueling, 72-hole, six-count-five format (six players play each round; the low five scores per round count toward the total) that pits CU against six of the top 12 teams in the country, 14 of the top 40 individually-ranked players in the nation and a toughened-up, 7,000-yard Trysting Tree GC layout featuring fast greens, tucked pins and lush, towering rough, the Buffs' entire season culminates into one final push to the make the NCAA postseason.

At No. 72 in the country, CU is primed to make a run toward its 40th NCAA appearance.- But nothing's a given and a good tournament will go a long way in the eyes of the selection committee.- And there's of course a lot to be said about finishing off one of the best seasons in school history like true champions. So, needless to say, there's a lot at stake in the Oregon low country this week.

Regardless of the event's outcome, however, as my first year at CU comes toward its conclusion -- a season that started with two consecutive wins in September and was recently bookended by an impressive runner-up finish at the Wyoming Desert Classic -- I can't help but reflect on the honor it's been to be part of such a determined and driven group of young men.

After the graduation of one of the squad's strongest players, Sebastian Heisele, in December, senior leader, Kevin Kring, has consistently led the squad on and off the course this spring toward improvement in each of the team's events. Joined this week by fellow graduating senior, Johnny Widmer, for their first and last Pac-12 Championship, perhaps the toughest test of both players' four-year tenures lies ahead in the next three days.

It won't be easy. The Pac-12 is arguably hands down the toughest and deepest golf conference in the country, and with a six-count-five format (as opposed to most events, which use a five-count-four system), the depth of each squad will be tested in its entirety.

Like the Buffs have done all year, though -- both while playing well and struggling -- this squad, six strong, will take the week's challenge head on and put forth an effort of which any Buff can be proud.

In that regard, the guys have already realized success before even teeing up the first shot.- They've prepared the best they can. They've taken care of their responsibilities in the classroom.- They've worked hard in the weight room.- They've grown close, cheering and propelling one another on to greater successes.- They're ready.

So, with that said it seems as if there's only one task remaining as the Buffs embark on the biggest tournament of the season: To lay down the cards and show 'em what we've got.- Go Buffs ...

March 13, 2012
It doesn't take much.  Maybe a small kick here; a tiny nudge there; an inadvertent, one-finger flick - whatever gets the ball rolling with this 2012 Buffalo Men's Golf program - it's inevitable the squad of nine Buffs strong will get on a roll, and a good one at that.

They've already proved that this fall, so find a pen and mark the statement down somewhere - anywhere - that they will prove it again.  Soon.

Because with a final-round, 3-over-par 291 at the Wyoming Desert Classic to improve significantly from their second-round standing, it's safe to say the five, hardworking Buffaloes who teed it up in the California desert left with more than just a taste of sand in their mouths.  And we're not just talking about the remnants of an In-N-Out Burger stop.

Results.  You can feed some of the best motivation in the world to any given team in pretty much any given sport, but there comes a time when a solid final result needs to bear its fickle head to keep the motivation strong.

More or less, that's where our guys sit right now.  We know that when we come out each spring we're competing against southern teams that have been practicing all winter long, and that it usually takes an event or two to feel 'normal' again with the touchy aspects of the game that produce good scores.  We saw that in Hawaii and we saw it again in California.

But it's that slightest skosh of success - which the Buffs realized in that final round in Palm Desert for the first time since the off-season began - which says we're about ready to bring the heat ... to an otherwise cold, rainy and windy place which awaits our next event, the Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Ore.

The Buffs have a week of prep remaining before jaunting up the Oregon coast for the popular Gonzaga-hosted event at one of the world's most famous collection of courses, Bandon Dunes. It'll be cold. It'll be windy.  It'll rain. Who knows, it'll probably even snow.

But we'll be ready. For Mother Nature; the competition; those tiny, little nuances in the game needed to score well; and, most of all, to get rolling again and see some results.  Go Buffs...

Feb. 9, 2012
OK, so we placed T18 in a field of 20, failing to break par while finishing undesirably in the final round after clawing into position for a closing run up the leaderboard. But, considering the unprecedented strength of field at the 22nd Annual Amer Ari Hawaii-Hilo Invitational - the Buffs' spring season opener last week - the wintered, rust-encrusted time of year and heavily Bermuda-grassed golf course at the Waikaloa Kings' Course (a type of grass many of the CU players aren't used to playing), let's throw a little context into the situation and understand how the Buffs actually had a good week in Hawaii, all things considered.

Here are the facts:

Seven of the top-11 teams in the country, including seven of the top-10 ranked amateurs in the world, were in the field. The top six finishers (Texas, USC, Stanford, Georgia Tech, UCLA and TCU) are all warm-weather schools, armed with plenty of warm-up in the preceding weeks and no doubt used to putting on grainy, Bermuda greens. CU - depending on your definition of the term - is not a warm-weather school and historically struggles on the grainy greens after coming straight off of the winter break.

'Facts' aside, of course, there's never an excuse for the squad's five double bogeys, two triple bogeys and one quadruple tanker on the week. Or a next-to-last ranking in birdies (33). But there's more than a smidge of solace in taking away some concrete, objective understanding regarding the Buffs' less-than-favorable Big Island bout. So, how 'bout we just call the Buffs' week in Hawaii a character builder.

After all, considering last week's tournament may have been the strongest top-to-bottom field to ever tee it up in a regular season college event, the guys' offseason goal of getting tougher mentally was only strengthened, if anything, considering they were forced to tee it up with the nation's best after three months away from competition.

The team as a whole, and a few Buffs individually, demonstrated a number of bright spots throughout the week. Junior Derek Fribbs recorded three straight 1-under 71s to lead the Buffaloes with a T23 finish - his second lowest 54-hole tournament at CU - which knocked off numerous players ranked in the top-50 in the national amateur rankings. His three-day scorecard of no bogeys or worse also led the theme of a big goal for the Buffs this season - to manage around the golf course better and stay away from big numbers.

Unfortunately, Fribbs' success in that area was offset by Senior Kevin Kring's uncharacteristic smattering of those unruly 'big numbers' - two double bogeys, one triple and one quadruple - which led to his rounds of 77/77/76 (233) and a tie for 103rd. Kring recorded just one score worse than a bogey - a lone double - in 12 tournament rounds in the fall, which says the senior leader will be itching for a shot at redemption in a major way.

The admittance of these 'others' by the team as whole highly overshadowed so many good things the Buffs did well.

Rust. Cobwebs. Shaking off the dust. Whatever you want to call it - the Buffs were just enough off of their games all week that, in a field so strong, weaknesses were amplified and a T18 was the result.

Armed with some great reflection about our Hawaii week and two weeks to hone in the guys' short games before leaving for the Wyoming Desert Classic (Feb. 25-26, Palm Desert, Calif.), however, you can bet your behind the Buffs will be ready to tee it up with confidence. And, well, that's something to be excited about.