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Golfers Ready, Confident For Pac-12 Championship

Apr 28, 2013

CU Golf Notes | Pac-12 Notes

               LOS ANGELES - The University of Colorado men's golf team fared well in its inaugural Pac-12 Conference championship last year, though an eighth place finish might not excite many, and the Buffaloes are out to improve on that finish in this year's event which runs Monday through Wednesday.

               The legendary Los Angeles Country Club is serving as host of the tournament, which features 36 holes on Monday and then 18 each of the next two days; the club's challenging North Course will play to 7,236 yards and to par-70, thus that distance at sea level will likely make keeping score around par a premium.

               In the inaugural Pac-12 meet last April, Colorado finished eighth in a field that featured six schools in the top 12 and 10 in the top 75; the Buffs finished behind those six top 12 teams as well as host Oregon State, which was also ranked ahead of CU.  California defeated Oregon in a playoff for the title, while the Buffs were 43 strokes off the lead, which worked to about two strokes per five players over four rounds.

             "We are definitely comfortable in the league from all aspects," head coach Roy Edwards said.  "This is the 'Conference of Champions' for a reason and men's golf is arguably the strongest sport in the league.  We have shown over the past few years we can be competitive against members of this conference.  Competitors want to play against the best and we are fortunate to be able to do that throughout the season as a member of the Pac-12."  

               The Buffaloes are currently ranked No. 60 in the nation by GolfStat (No. 68 in the Golfweek ratings, both out of 301 schools), having won two tournaments, the Air Force Invitational last September and the Bandon Dunes Championship last month.  In the four-year history of the latter, CU is the only school to finish under par, doing so with a 2-under par winning score of 862.  The end of the fall season and the start of the spring were a bit bumpy for the Buffs, otherwise, CU might very well be ranked in the top 30.

              "Overall we have been pleased," Edwards answered when asked about his thoughts on CU's season to date.  "When we have played well, we have played really, really well - beat some of the best teams in the country.  Lately I feel we have become a lot more consistent.  I really feel like the team has developed, grown, and improved throughout the season, which is obviously something we have been excited to see.

              "We play our best when we make great decisions, are confident, and mitigate mistakes," he continued.  "If we concentrate on doing those three things at high levels, we will have a good tournament." 

               Colorado will be represented by two seniors, one junior, one sophomore and two freshmen, one a redshirt; collectively they have played in seven league championship events.   The two seniors lead the team in stroke average, Jason Burstyn (72.15) and Derek Fribbs (73.11), and have played in five of the seven title meets, with Burstyn posting CU's best effort in 2012 with a 26th place finish.  So the rest of the team is young but as Edwards points out, ready.

               "The guys are for sure ready to go," he said.  "Sure we're a little young, but I have a high level of confidence in the guys we have here and I expect us to perform at a high level.  Depth is something we focus on throughout the year by playing a lot of individuals in tournaments and we are fortunate to have had some guys develop."  

                Junior transfer Johnny Hayes (75.18), sophomore David Oraee (73.82), redshirt freshman Drew Trujillo (75.64) and true frosh Philip Juel-Berg (73.94) round out the Buffs who will compete in L.A.   Trujillo has been the one to see more action than first expected this spring, playing as many rounds - 17 - as the regulars on the fall travel squad.  Juel-Berg owns the 12th best stroke average this year by a Pac-12 freshman (the 11 ahead of him are from six different schools).

               Oraee posted CU's next best finish in last year's meet (tying for 27th), and Hayes tied for 26th in the Colonial Athletic Association championship as a freshman in 2010.

                The youngest squads ever to play in a league championship for the Buffaloes were in 2003 (three freshmen, one junior and one senior) and 2010 (two freshmen, two sophomores, one senior).  Both groups earned a collective 10 letters.  This year's sextet has earned 13 letters.

                 The Pac-12 has long instituted a 6-for 5 scoring format for its title meet, obviously a reward for those schools with greater depth and a challenge for those without it.  It will the first such meet this season for the Buffs, who have struggled at time finding consistent play from the fifth position (a 78.2 average in tournaments), but rose to the occasion a year ago.

                  Colorado's overall team stroke average is 74.08, which if holds, would stand to be the school's fourth best in its long history.  That number is also the sixth best in the conference.  Nationally, the Buffaloes rank high in two fairly significant categories, sixth in fairways hit (70.3 percent) and fourth in greens in regulation (66.3).  CU is also third in eagles with 19, as Burstyn is the national leader with eight.  

                 "The Los Angeles Country Club is one of the premier golf courses in the world and puts our Championship on a deserving and phenomenal stage," Edwards said.  "For us to be successful we need to stay in the moment, be confident, and worry about only what we have control over.  It is a long tournament, we need to stay focused at all times to make the correct decisions, and enjoy playing and competing."

 NOTES: Colorado is 96-63 against Division I competition, clinching a better than .500 record and thus has met the first criteria for selection into the NCAA Regionals (May 16-18).  However, nothing is a sure thing as the Buffs found out a year ago, as with a similar record, the selection committee left the Buffs out, many believing CU was the first team on the outside looking in ... Colorado is 11-29 versus Pac-12 schools so far in 2011-12, participating in tournaments with all 11 other league members on at least one occasion; but much of that damage came in three tournaments (0-24), including the first two out of the chute this spring; CU is 6-1 against conference brethren in the last six week.  Thus, the Buffs are 85-34 against non-Pac 12 competition ... Opening pairings are by a random draw (sans the defending champ, which opens in the first groups on No. 1); Colorado is paired with No. 8 Stanford and No. 5 UCLA and will tee off on No. 1 at from 10-10:50 a.m. MDT (Round 1) and from 3-3:50 p.m. (Round 2); CU also was grouped with the Cardinal a year ago, with the two joined by Washington State.