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               WAIKOLOA, Hawai’i — The University of Colorado men’s golf team shot its best single round in a spring opener in its history Saturday, which led to its best performance under par in a first spring event as well as the Buffaloes finished 13th in the 24th annual Amer Ari Hawaii-Hilo Invitational.
               No. 3 Oklahoma State pulled away from the field with the best final round showing (a 17-under 271), winning by a dozen shots after posting a 45-under par 819 team score; the Cowboys had entered the day with a two-shot lead over No. 60 Oregon.  No. 13 Washington finished second with an 831 total, while the Ducks, No. 25 Southern California and No. 57 Texas Christian tied for third with 835 counts. 
               Colorado, No. 83 in the final Golfweek fall rankings, recorded a 10-under par 278 effort in the final round, tied for the second best in the entire field, and finished with an 18-under 846 team total to finish 13th overall; CU was 17th after the first round and 15th through 36 holes.  The minus-18 also was the sixth best score in relation to par in any tournament in school history.
              The Pac-12, with eight schools competing here, once again proved it is the nation’s premier golf conference, with five teams finishing in the top seven; there were 10 top 50 schools in the 20-team field, including three in the top 10.
               "Strong round today by the team, the second best final round in a very strong field and a great way to start our spring season,” said CU head coach Roy Edwards, who has now presided over six of the school’s eight lowest scoring tournaments in school annals.  “We improved each day and shot our lowest round with the toughest course set-up of the three rounds.”
               In this same tournament a year ago with a similar field, the Buffs finished 17th but were 25-over par (889; UCLA won with a 22-under 842).  In 2013, the Buffs had three seniors, a sophomore and a true freshman competing here, whereas fast-forward to this year, and the marked improvement was accomplished by three true frosh, a sophomore and a junior.
               The Buffs had opened their spring season with an under-par performance just one other time, in 1993 at the John Burns Intercollegiate in Honolulu; CU turned in a 6-under 858 team score.  That stood as the team standard until today, especially since February tournaments became the norm in the late 1970s and the Buffs have almost always found it a challenge like most northern schools to get the same quality practice time in as their southern and western counterparts.
               Along with a second round 7-under 281, the Buffs recorded their top two rounds in a spring lid-lifter and two of their top three this season including fall play.  CU’s previous best single round in a spring opener was a 6-under par effort on two occasions: in the 2004 PING-Arizona Intercollegiate (278 on a par-71 course) and in the 2008 Hawai’i-Hilo event (a 274 on the tournament’s old site, the par-70 Waikoloa Village Course).
               Freshman Jeremy Paul led the Buffaloes with a 9-under par 207, closing things out with a 2-under par 70 in tying for 16th overall on the 7,074-yard, par-72 Waikoloa King’s Course layout.  He had three birdies and 14 pars, giving him a team-best 12 birdies, 36 pars and an eagle with just five holes worse than par, which tied for the team low.  He led the entire field here on the par-4 holes, playing the 30 combined at 8-under par, two shots better than any other player.
               Paul’s effort was the second best spring semester opener in school history as it relates to under par, bested only by Scott Petersen, who was 11-under in that ’93 John Burns Invitational that led the Buffs to the only previous spring opener in the red.  He also tied the best performance (9-under, 207) in school history by a freshman: his twin brother Yannik had the same total in UTEP’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational to close out the fall.  Jeremy is 24-under par in his last three tournaments (208, 209, 207), three of the top four frosh efforts in CU golf and in the process became the first golfer in CU history to record three straight major tournaments at 7-under par or better.
                Sophomore Philip Juel-Berg posted CU’s best round Saturday, a 4-under 68, to finish tied for 42nd with a 4-under 212.  He racked up six birdies and 11 pars, his only misstep a double bogey on the par-4 No. 5 after he had reached 5-under; he got half of that back with his final birdie two holes later on No. 7.  He was seventh this weekend in par-3 scoring (playing the dozen short ones at 2-under (only 23 were under par overall on those holes).  He had 10 birdies and matched Paul with just five holes worse than bogey, with his 39 pars tying for the seventh most in the field.
               Junior David Oraee recorded a 2-under 70, finishing the same (minus-2) for the tournament with a 214 score, tying him for 53rd.  He wrapped things up with four birdies, 12 pars and two bogeys, birdying three of his final seven holes to get into the red for the round.  He had 10 birdies, 36 pars and eight bogeys all tolled.
                Freshman Yannik Paul also had a 2-under 70, rebounding from a tough second half of his second round on Friday, where he was six-over for his last eight holes; Saturday, he had two birdies and 16 pars, which helped him to shoot a 2-over 218 for the meet, tying him for 77th.  Overall, he had eight birdies and 37 pars (18th in the field) against eight bogeys and a double.
                Yet another freshman, Andrew Bonner, turned in a 3-over 75 for his final round, giving him a 219 total to tie for 84th; his 3-over total for the tournament was his collegiate career best.  He had 15 pars and three bogeys Saturday, including one of his first hole of the day (No. 12), but he bounced right back with six consecutive pars instead of letting the start get to him.  He had eight birdies and 36 pars, with nine bogeys and one double for the meet.
                Senior Johnny Hayes competed here individually (his score didn’t count toward CU’s team total); he finished with a 7-over 79 for a 13-over 229 total, tying for 114th.  He couldn’t get much going under par any of the three days (a single birdie each round) each day, but two double bogeys and four bogeys with 11 pars led to his higher round Saturday.  His 39 pars for the tournament matched Juel-Berg for the seventh most overall.
                 CU’s five designated scorers thus had an eagle and 48 birdies and just three double bogeys over the three rounds (184 pars, 34 bogeys).
                “Other than that one hole, Philip played solid and really had it going,” Edwards said.  “David was good as was Yannik again today, while Jeremy was about the same, very consistent.  Andrew didn't play his best but we are seeing some positive things from him and some very good golf is on its way very soon. As for Johnny, he just had an uncharacteristic week.
                 “I was encouraged about how well the guys competed and continued to adapt well to the Bermuda greens,” he added.  “Everyone is excited to get back out again in a week-and-a-half and play again."
                 Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge used the low round of the day, a 7-under 65, to jump from seventh to medalist honors, edging USC’s Jeffrey Kang (68—201) and Stanford’s Cameron Wilson, the leader heading into the final round (70-202).  Fifteen players finished at 10-under or better with 63 of the 118 overall under par.
                 The Buffaloes will return to action in 10 days in Palm Desert, Calif., facing off against Wyoming in an individual challenge on Feb. 18 and then remaining in the area for the Wyoming Desert Collegiate (Feb. 21-23).



Jeremy Paul



Philip Juel-Berg



David Oraee



Yannik Paul



Andrew Bonner



*Johnny Hayes


*—competed individually.



Jordan Niebrugge, Oklahoma State



Jeffrey Kang, USC



Cameron Wilson, Stanford



David Fink, Oregon State



Thomas Lim, Oregon



Wyndham Clark, Oklahoma State




Oklahoma State












Southern California












Georgia Tech






Arizona State



Texas Tech






Oregon State









San Jose State



Osaka Gakuin






CSU-Monterey Bay