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Men's Golf Season Ends At NCAA Southeast Regional

May 17, 2014

               AUBURN, Ala. — The University of Colorado men’s golf team saw its season come to a sudden end Saturday, as the Buffaloes dropped four spots in the standings a second straight day and finished 12th in the NCAA Southeast/Auburn Regional.

               Colorado, ranked No. 48 nationally, entered the final round in the thick of things, in eighth place but just two shots out of fifth, as the top five teams after 54 holes would earn the right to advance to the NCAA Championship Finals.  But for a team that made a habit out of playing its best round to close out tournaments all season long, the opposite happened Saturday as the Buffaloes shot the highest score in the 14-team field, an 18-over par 306, thus closing with a 901 total, some 17 strokes back of the cutline.

               No. 1 and defending national champion Alabama pulled away, the Crimson Tide turning in the best round of the tournament all three days in working up an 11-under par 853 score.  That was good for a 22-shot victory over No. 37 Kennesaw State (875), with No. 21 and host Auburn (878), No. 12 Virginia Tech (882) and No. 13 Texas (884) rounding out the top five and those who advanced on to the finals; there was no change from Friday in the top five, though in the end, just seven strokes separated fourth through 11th place.

               The Buffaloes have nothing to be ashamed of, a youthful team completing a successful season and making some postseason noise until running out of steam.  The parallels are striking to the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche just down the road: a great regular season with a young team, good start in the playoffs, but unfortunately a quick and disappointing ending.

               “It was just a bad day, there’s really no other way to describe it,” CU head coach Roy Edwards said.  “Everyone is disappointed – no one wanted the season to end like this.  I don’t think nerves played a role at all.  We just played bad, and that’s unfortunately what can happen.  Everybody was in good spirits at the start, we were excited to get out there and play today.  With things so close, it was important to get off to a good start and we didn’t.”

                The Buffs’ four scorers were even through three holes, but by the time they were done with one-third of their rounds, CU was 8-over par and the handwriting was pretty much on the wall; of the 11 teams that finished ahead of the Buffs, only five posted rounds over par, and none higher than plus-5.

                “I didn’t notice the kids pressing after we didn’t get off to a good start,” Edwards said.  “When we hit good shots, we weren’t able to convert, and when we didn’t hit our best shots, we weren’t able to make the saves.  There’s just no magical explanation at the end of the day as to why what happened.  The golf course was there for the taking today, the conditions were good for scoring, easily the best of the three rounds.

              “We just weren’t good, it just wasn’t our day.  It stings, we weren’t expecting this, but we’ll learn from it.”

               Freshman Jeremy Paul shot CU’s best round of the day, an even-par 72, and did so with a little panache on the 7,254-yard, par-72 Auburn University Club course layout.  He birdied his final three holes (7, 8 and 9) to do so; it enabled him to finish with a 7-over 223 total which tied him for 28th overall as well as seventh best among the 20 freshmen which competed here.  He had five birdies, eight pars and five bogeys in his final round, with his nine birdies a team-high for the regional (and tied for the 11th-most in the field).  Perhaps the irony was his finishing with a birdie on No. 9, the toughest hole of the week in the regional: only 12 birdies were scored on it all three days combined.

              Sophomore Philip Juel-Berg recorded a final round 4-over 76, which gave him an 8-over 224, tying him for 34th.  He ran the gamut Saturday, with an eagle, two birdies, nine pars, four bogeys and two doubles.  He was 5-over through six holes after scoring back-to-back double bogeys, but answered those on the next hole with an eagle on the 580-yard, par-5 16th, one of only two scored on the hole in the entire tournament.  In fact, that was one of just 10 eagles all week, with only Alabama and Auburn scoring two, and six teams one each.  Juel-Berg tied for the team-best with 33 pars here this week, and played the dozen par-5 holes at 5-under, seventh-best in the field.

              Junior David Oraee struggled early and late in his final round, as he closed with a 7-over 79 for a 10-over 226 scorecard, placing him in a tie for 39th.  He bogeyed three of his first five holes, and then birdied his next before reeling off six straight pars; but down the stretch he scored two doubles and ended his round with a bogey.  He had a team-high 11 pars in the final round and matched Juel-Berg’s 33 for the team-best overall.   He played the 30 par-4 holes here this week at 1-over par, tied for 14th-best overall.

             Freshman Ethan Freeman finished up with a third consecutive 7-over 79, giving him a 237 total, or 21-over par; that tied him for 66th.  He had three birdies, eight pars, six bogeys and a quadruple bogey on Saturday; he was just 1-over through eight holes until he scored the quad on the par-4, No. 18.  The bulk of his strokes over par can be traced mostly to just seven holes (none of them the same), where he recorded six doubles and the quad, which accounted to 16 extra shots.  He had six birdies and 30 pars for the tournament.
            Freshman Yannik Paul unfortunately couldn’t match his terrific first round success in his last two rounds.  After opening with a 2-under 70 which had him tied for second, he came back with rounds of 86 and 83 to finish with a 23-over 239 total, which placed him 69th in the field.   He bogeyed his first four holes Saturday, then endured a double and another before scoring his first par of the day; he then had two more bogeys to shoot 45 for his first nine, but then did settle down with five straight pars.  He made his only birdie of the day late in the round to end a 36-hole drought without one.
            Austin Peay State’s Marco Iten ran away with medalist honors, as he fired a 5-under 67 Saturday for an 8-under 208 score for 54 holes.  He secured the lone individual spot that advanced to the Finals, becoming one of just a handful of players in regional history to win the event as an individual without his team present.  He bested Alabama’s Cory Whitsett by four shots in winning, as they were just two of 10 players who finished under par, with just two others matching it.
            The good news is that the Buffaloes return this entire team plus sophomore Drew Trujillo for the 2014-15 season, while losing only senior Johnny Hayes.
            “The future is very bright,” Edwards said.  “I think once we get over this week, it will be a very good learning experience, and it can be something we can draw on in the future when we’re in this position again. 
            "Only a few teams in the nation are in the hunt on the last day of the regionals.  So we were right where we wanted to be, it just didn’t go our way today.  So this will help us down the road, we just need to keep getting better and I am confident that we’ll do just that.  We’re already looking forward to next year.”


NOTES: Saturday marked the first time in seven spring tournaments that CU did not shoot a lower final round score (five times) or similar one (once) than in the previous round, making what happened even more uncharacteristic … The Buffs narrowly set a school record for team stroke average, finishing at 73.76; that bested the old mark of 73.77 set by the 2003-04 team … This year’s spring mark of 73.39 easily set a record, as that ’03-04 team also held the old one of 73.71 … Jeremy Paul finished as the team leader in stroke average with a 72.51 figure, breaking the school’s previous mark by a freshman of 73.03 set by Kane Webber in 1999-2000; it is also the seventh best average in school history (the lowest in five years, since Derek Tolan and Patrick Grady were both sub-72 in 2008-09) … He is just the sixth freshman to lead the Buffaloes in stroke average, the first since Webber in ’99-00; others were Dale Douglass (1955-56), Blake Stirling (1970-71), Steve Jones (1977-78) and Knut Ekjord (1994-95) … Paul’s 72.22 spring average was also a freshman best and the fifth lowest all-time at CU; he also finished one shy of the record for the most subpar rounds in a season with 17 (Webber and Grady co-hold that record) …  Yannik Paul, the younger of the identical twins, finished with a 73.53 average, the third-best stroke average by a freshman at CU ... Paul and Philip Juel-Berg tied for the team lead in rounds of par or better with 19, another record held by Webber (23 in ’03-04) … Juel-Berg had a frosh average of 73.95 last year, third all-time at the time, but now fifth, thus three of the top five marks are owned by current players ... David Oraee did not have a score worse than double bogey all season (666 holes); he was one of just five players in the nation not to do so entering regional play … The average score on Saturday was 73.95, compared to 76.11 for the first round and 75.33 for second; the overall average for the three rounds was 75.13 … Roy Edwards completed his eighth season as coach of the Buffaloes Saturday; CU’s had just three since 1948 (the United States has had 12 presidents in that span) … The NCAA Finals (May 23-28 in Hutchinson, Kan.) will be dominated by the Southeastern (10) and Pac-12 conferences (six), which are stocking the 30-team field with 16 of the teams.




Jeremy Paul



Philip Juel-Berg



David Oraee



Ethan Freeman



Yannik Paul




Marco Iten, Austin Peay State



Cory Whitsett, Alabama



Klein Klotz, Sam Houston State



Scott Vincent, Virginia Tech



Tom Lovelady, Alabama







Kennesaw State






Virginia Tech





--------------------------------did not make cut-----------------------------


New Mexico






Brigham Young






UC Davis



Sam Houston State






Alabama State



St. John’s