Buffs ten swings away from first place


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Colorado men’s golf team opened strong here Thursday in the NCAA Central/Fayetteville Regional, with the Buffaloes in sixth place and definitely in contention for a top five finish and the berth into the NCAA Finals that comes with it.


No. 33 Illinois leads the pack with a 6-under 282 score, thanks to the efforts of two true freshmen that combined to go 11 strokes under what some call the “happy side of par.”  No. 4 Texas is second (285), followed by No. 11 Oklahoma State (286), No. 22 Kent State (288) and No. 12 and host Arkansas (290).

golf swing

The Buffaloes, ranked No. 58 by GolfStat and No. 67 by Golfweek, turned in a 4-over 292 to stand in sixth.  No. 20 SMU is five back of CU, with the remaining seven teams in the field all at 300 or higher.


The top five teams out of 14 competing will advance to the NCAA Finals, set for May 28-June 2 in Atlanta, Ga., as will the top two individuals not associated with the five teams that qualify.


The four Buffs who contributed to the team score made the turn at 1-over; they had a collective hiccup on the first four holes on the front side (4-over), but played the last five at 1-under.  The end result was Colorado placing four in the top 25 through 18 holes, matched only by Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, three of the nation’s top 12 teams.


“It was definitely a good start, which we chalk up to our primary focus today being was to be patient and have a great attitude,” head coach Roy Edwards said.  “The guys were phenomenal with that.  I’m really proud of them, and that’s really the main reason we enjoyed a solid round.


“We need to do the same thing for tomorrow,” he continued.  “That’s to be patient, take it one shot at a time.  Right now, they’re only thinking about their first tee shot (Friday).  You cannot get ahead of yourself here.  It rained overnight and the course was really soft, so it played as easiest as it’s going to get today.  The scores are likely not going to be as low, so the emphasis will be on the importance of being patient.  That’s what we’ll stress.”


Sophomore David Oraee led the Buffaloes with a 1-under 71, which has him tied for ninth individually.  He had a steady round with four birdies and 11 pars against three bogeys; the four birds tied for 10th most in the field.  Playing to even par much of the round, he finished with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 with a bogeys sandwiched in-between to get it into red numbers on the 7,251-yard, par-72 The Blessings Golf Club course layout.


Freshman Philip Juel-Berg continued his stellar rookie season, posting a 1-over 73, which has him tied for 20th.  He had three birdies, 11 pars and four bogeys on his day, as he made the turn at 3-over but played the front side at 2-under, thanks to birds on Nos. 6 and 9.  There are 14 freshmen in the field; Juel-Berg finished currently is seventh among them, with three of the six ahead of him recording even-par rounds of 72.


CU’s No. 1 player and stroke average leader, senior Jason Burstyn, fashioned a 2-over 74, tying him for 25th; he had four birdies like Oraee, along with nine pars, four bogeys and one double.  The latter came on No. 6, a 418-yard, par-4 that played as the day’s fourth toughest hole; that pushed him to 4-over on the day, but he bounced back and closed with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9.


Senior Derek Fribbs also shot a 74, with three birdies and 11 pars against three bogeys and a double.  He got off to one of the hot starts of the day, standing 3-under after he birdied Nos. 12, 13 and 15 – a par-5, a par-4 and a par-3, respectively – but came back down to Earth with bogeys on No. 17 and then on Nos. 1 and 4.  He was cruising along at even par until his final hole of the day, the 535-yard, par-5 No. 9, where he doubled after hitting his drive into a hazard.  It was his first double bogey in six rounds.


“I was hitting it in their close and utilizing the slopes,” Fribbs said of his start.  “But after a while, the putts weren’t falling.  I still had opportunities on the back nine, I just couldn’t make any putts to take full advantage of things.  The course played a little easier today than expected because you could hold your shots better than we thought, but we also had good course management today.”


Junior Johnny Hayes shot an 8-over 80, tying him for 60th, as he recorded two birdies and nine pars against five bogeys, a double and a triple.  He scored the latter two in his first four holes to get to 5-over quickly, but settled down over the final 14 holes.


“Johnny had a rough start, but regrouped and then held it together pretty well for a bad start,” Edwards said.  “For the most part, any time anyone made a mistake, they worked hard to make a bogey and nothing worse.”


Hayes certainly wasn’t alone in his struggles; the average score by the non-scorer for all 14 teams on Thursday was an 81.6; he actually tied for the fourth lowest as only three managed to break 80.  Despite his troubles, he played the par-3 holes at a collective 1-under, tied for eighth best in the field.


Illinois freshman Charlie Danielson turned in the best round of the day to take the individual lead, as the 2012 Wisconsin state high school champion opened on the back nine and shot a 30, including five birdies over a seven hole span; he added two more birdies on the front side to finish with a 7-under 65.  Freshmen dominated the top of the leaderboard Thursday, with Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge tied for second (67) and Illinois’ Thomas Detry fourth (68).


The field has been re-paired according to score for the second round; Colorado, the No. 10 seed here, will tee it up off the No. 1 tee beginning at 7:20 a.m. MDT with Kent State (No. 5 seed) and Arkansas (No. 2), who occupy the fourth and fifth spots ahead of the Buffs.  The final round is set for a 7:50 a.m. start on Saturday.

CU media release

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