WAIKOLOA, Hawai’i — The University of Colorado men’s golf team arrived here Saturday in preparation for its spring opener, the 24th annual Amer Ari Hawaii-Hilo Invitational.
The tournament, which runs this Thursday through Saturday, will once again provide an indication of where the Buffaloes stand right out of the gate, not just nationally, but with seven other Pac-12 schools competing, the Buffs will get an early idea of where they stand in the conference.
The field here is annually one of the strongest in the spring, and it’s no exception this year with three top 10 teams competing and 10 of the top 50 and all but two (out of 17) in the top 100. It also includes 10 of the nation’s top 30 individuals and the No. 7 Division II program in CSU-Monterey Bay.
Colorado (No. 83 in the final Golfweek fall rankings), will be joined in the field by league counterparts Stanford (No. 9), Washington (No. 13), UCLA (No. 17), Southern California (No. 25), Arizona State (No. 37), Oregon (No. 60) and Oregon State (No. 67). Other top schools competing include No. 2 Georgia Tech, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 19 Texas and No. 26 Auburn.
The three-day tournament is a real treat for the participants, as the tournament will be played on the renowned 7,074-yard, par-72 Waikoloa King’s Course on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a Scottish links-style layout with fairways interspersed between ancient lava fields, along with numerous lakes and pot bunkers. The teams will play 18 holes each day in a shotgun start format at 10:30 a.m. MST in weather expected to be near-perfect with temperatures in the low 80s.
Colorado head coach Roy Edwards said the team is looking forward to the spring season getting underway.
“This tournament annually has a great field, and it’s always really exciting,” Edwards said. “It’s been just over three months since our last tournament and we’re ready to get our spring season going. We’ve had some solid days of practice out here, which we were in need of considering the weather back home. If we take care of business and play the way we’re capable, we’re confident that we can beat some really good teams.”
Six Buffaloes are on trip; five will score for the team: junior David Oraee (73.9 fall stroke average) sophomore Philip Juel-Berg (73.5) and three true freshmen: Jeremy Paul (72.9), Yannik Paul (72.5) and Andrew Bonner (77.7). Oraee, Juel-Berg and Jeremy Paul played in all five competitions, while Yannik Paul appeared in four and Bonner two. Senior Johnny Hayes (74.4) will play as an individual.