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USAFA, Colo. - The University of Colorado men's golf team entered the final round of the 44th Annual Gene Miranda Air Force Falcon Invitational here Monday with a five-stroke lead over UNLV. 

It shrunk to two shots after the first three holes, but the Buffaloes regrouped and finished in a flurry, winning going away by 12 strokes over the Rebels and Coastal Carolina, marking the second straight year coach Roy Edwards' team has opened with a major tournament win.

Colorado shot under par as a team for all three rounds, finishing with a 12-under total of 852 for the meet; Coastal Carolina and UNLV tied for second with even par 864 totals, with host Air Force and Colorado State tying for fourth with 866 (2-over) scores.  It was the sixth time in history of the Falcon that the Buffaloes have been crowned champions.

Senior Jason Burstyn, who won his first collegiate tournament at the Ballyneal Challenge, an individual event, last Tuesday in Holyoke, won the first major event of his career in leading CU to the team win.  The Miami, Fla., product closed with a solid 4-under 68 for a 9-under 207 score overall on the challenging 7,370-yard, par-72 Eisenhower Blue Course layout.  He birdied five of his last 10 holes in pulling away for a three-stroke win over Utah State's Tanner Higman.  

All five of his rounds this season have been under par - tying the school record first established by John Lindberg in 1987 and matched by Patrick Grady in 2008.  His 11 birdies were just the third most by a Buff in the tournament, but he aided his own cause with CU's only two eagles and making just six bogeys, the low by any golfer in the tournament.

"The best part of my game this week was my iron play," Burstyn said.  "On the 36-hole day, I was really sticking it and made most of the putts.  I was all over the pin, hitting 32 of 36 greens or close to that, and today, I got off to a little bit of a shaky start.  I wasn't swinging great but made some good par saves to kind of keep me going.  I was 1-over early, but I got an eagle on No. 5 (drained an 8-footer) and that got me going.  I turned at 1-under and made a few more birdies.  Every time I made a birdie I got more comfortable, and a little more confident, and it calmed me down."

Though securely in the lead, he had about a 15-footer with a big left-to-right break for a birdie on No. 18.  "It was cool to close it out in style, to hit the perfect putt in front of the coaches and my teammates, and also my dad and brother," he said.  "It was definitely a very memorable moment."

Senior Derek Fribbs bolstered the Colorado team effort in tying for third, also wrapping things up with a 4-under 68.  He recorded a 5-under 211 for 54 holes, scoring a team-best 17 birdies.   Freshman Philip Juel-Berg, who placed second at Ballyneal, struggled just a bit down the stretch but still turned in a 4-over 76 for a 1-over 217 overall, tying him for 14th.  He scored 12 birdies and 29 pars against 13 bogeys in his first major collegiate tourney.

Both Fribbs and Juel-Berg joined Burstyn in not scoring worse than a bogey over the course of the three rounds.  In fact, the seven golfers CU brought down I-25 collectively had just 11 holes (nine doubles, two triples) in the 378 played combined among them on a course considered to be a very good test of golf.

Senior Beau Schoolcraft fashioned a 2-over 74 to finish up with a 7-over 223 to tie for 41st; he had a team-high 36 pars with six birdies against 11 bogeys and one double.  Sophomore David Oraee overcame a rough patch near the middle of his round (playing Nos. 12-14 at 4-over), but bounced right back with two birdies to shoot a 3-over 75, tying for 63rd overall (229, +13).   

Redshirt freshmen Tyler Engel competed in his first major college tournament as an individual, tying for 31st with a 5-over 221 score.  He closed with a 76, but was 3-over after opening bogey-double; he settled down quickly and played the last 16 holes at just 1-over.

Engel had a very steady day, turning in a 71-74-145 scorecard to stand in a tie for 24th; He scored seven birdies and 21 pars with eight bogeys to account for his 1-over performance. 

Freshman Ross Thornton also competed individually and tied for 80th, closing with a 78 for a 20-over 236 total; he finished his first collegiate effort with seven birdies and 26 pars.  He had a unique scorecard in that he shot the same score for each nine all three rounds: 41-41 in round one, 38-38 for round two and 39-39 Tuesday.

"Obviously, I'm really happy and excited for the team - they generally did a spectacular job here and last week overall," Edwards said of CU's sixth tournament victory in his seventh season as head coach.  "We actually got off to a pretty poor start, and things were a little rocky there for a bit, but the guys battled through it.  Jason and Derek played two really good rounds, Beau was solid and David really fought hard to finish 3-over.  And I've been real impressed with Philip in the short time he's been here."

The six tournament wins ties Edwards with the late Les Fowler for the second-most in coaches' reign at CU; the late Mark Simpson's teams won 16.  Both coached at the school for 29 seasons.

On if his team is playing with something to prove after being passed over to participate in the NCAA Championships last season, Edwards indicated they really haven't even brought it up.

"This team is more of a continuation of the progress that we began to make last year, if not in previous years before that," he said.  "We know we have to keep working.  An example that surfaced today: Jason came off the green at 18 and I told him how proud I was of him.  The first thing he told me was that, 'I'm not done getting better.'  That's a special thing to hear as a coach.  We have guys that are generally very proud of being Colorado Buffaloes and playing golf here, and it's showing up in their practice, in their preparation and more and more in competition."

"The most important thing was the team winning," Burstyn added.  "There are individual and team elements to college golf.  The course was harder today with the pin (placements), and things were tight heading into the back nine.  But we kept at it and next thing you know, we kind of ran away with it.  A great start for the team."

Next up for the Buffaloes will be the third annual CU-Mark Simpson Invitational, set for Colorado National Golf Club on Sept. 24-25; Colorado is the defending champion of the tournament named for the coach of the program from 1977 until his untimely death in 2005 due to complications from lung cancer.


BUFFALO INDIVIDUALS (*-played as an individual)                                                   



Jason Burstyn




Derek Fribbs




Philip Juel-Berg




*Tyler Engel




Beau Schoolcraft




David Oraee




*Ross Thornton





Jason Burstyn, Colorado




Tanner Higham, Utah State




Derek Fribbs, Colorado




Sebastian Soderberg, C.Carolina




Kyle Westmoreland, Air Force









Coastal Carolina








Air Force




Colorado State








Northern Colorado




Utah State




Texas El-Paso




New Mexico State




CU-Colorado Springs








Southern Utah








Weber State