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               MARANA, Ariz. — The University of Colorado men’s golf team struggled Friday and played like it rarely had all season in coming up 10th at the midway point of the 55th annual Pac-12 Championships.
               Saturday, the Buffaloes played like they could make some serious noise in the upcoming NCAA postseason.
               Colorado turned in the best team score in miserable weather conditions while one of its young freshman also posted the low round of the day as the Buffs zoomed into sixth heading into the fourth and final round here Sunday.
               No. 3 Stanford all but has locked up its first title since 1994, as the Cardinal will take a 21-stroke lead into the final round.  Stanford has a team score of 1,083, or 7-over par, outdistancing two-time defending champion and No. 4-ranked Cal by 15 shots in the third round to build its big lead as the Bears have a team score of 1,104; No. 10 Washington is in third (1,107).
               The No. 52 Buffaloes recorded a 4-over 364 team score Saturday, the best on the day and the sixth best overall in the meet to catapult up in the standings; CU entered the round in 10th place, but were some 15 strokes behind ninth-place Oregon.
              The conditions were challenging as predicted: the day started out sunny with temperatures in the low 80s, though windy with gusts into the 30s, with a storm moving in early in the afternoon that brought light rain and dropped the temperature some 25 degrees.
               “The guys were phenomenal,” CU head coach Roy Edwards said.  “It is hard to describe just how tough the conditions were out there.  It’s an extremely tough golf course to being with, and then it started raining really hard for two hours with the wind gusting into the mid-30s.  Not what you think of when you think of Arizona.  People were telling us this as the coldest day of the year.
              “Our guys knew it was going to be really tough, and if they made a mistake or two, they didn’t let it affect them on their next shot,” he continued.  “Their mental preparedness and focus were excellent.  The guys have always responded when they haven’t played well with some positive and this continues that trend, and this reflects their attitude and their approach to golf.  We’ve done that all year and they keep doing it.  That’s what we’re most proud of.”
               How did Colorado do it?  Edwards always preaches game management and calculated risks; Saturday, CU’s six players combined for just 23 holes worse than par despite the conditions – a number that include just one double bogey and none higher – only the third-ranked Cardinal came close to that performance (25, 23 bogeys and two doubles).
              Freshman Yannik Paul accomplished something no other player could on Saturday – he turned in the lone round in the 60s in recording a 3-under par 69 on the 7,349-yard, par-72 Gallery Golf Club layout, which gave him a 13-over 229 through 54 holes, vaulting him from 68th place into a tie for 40th.  He had four birdies and 13 pars against a single bogey in his third round, quite the bounce back from his first two rounds which saw him uncharacteristically have 12 holes worse than par.  He has a team-best 35 pars through three rounds, eighth-best in the field.
              Paul’s 69 matched CU’s previous best in a Pac-12 Championship, accomplished by Kevin Kring in the 2012 meet at Corvallis (also 3-under par).
             “Yannik’s round was nothing short of incredible,” Edwards said.  “When you shoot the low round of the day in the Pac-12 Championships, you’ve played a serious round of golf, and that’s in any conditions.  And he did it in some of hardest conditions you can imagine.  That says something about him.” 
             Junior David Oraee is the highest Buffalo on the leaderboard as he tied for 11th, firing a second straight 2-over 74 for a 4-over 220 scorecard; he had two birdies and 12 pars Saturday against four bogeys, one of which came on his final hole of the day, No. 9.  He’s played the 30 par-4 holes this weekend to the tune of 1-under par, which is sixth-best in the 72-man field, and he is also among the leaders in pars (33, 16th) and birdies (9, 15th).
             Freshman Ethan Freeman, one of three from competing here for the Buffaloes and one of 14 competing overall here this weekend, is tied for 28th with a 9-over 225 total after fashioning a 3-over 75 Saturday; he had two birdies, 12 pars, three bogeys and a double for his third time around the Gallery track.  He is fourth among all the freshman with 18 holes remaining.
             Freshman Jeremy Paul turned in a 4-over 76 for a 14-over 230 through 54 holes; that has him tied for 45th after he scored four birdies and six pars in the third round; he’s matched Oraee’s team-best nine birdies.  The Buffs’ stroke leader coming in at a shade over 72, come Sunday he might just shoot his best score here, as he does own CU’s best final round average this season at 71.8.
             Sophomore Drew Trujillo shot his best round of the tourney, a 2-over 74 with gave him a 15-over 231, tying him fo 48th place, moving him up 13 spots in the standings.  He had two birdies and 12 pars Saturday, and is playing the challenging par-3 holes here the best of all the Buffaloes and the 11th-best in the field, as he is 2-over for the dozen of those through three rounds.
             Sophomore Philip Juel-Berg is tied for 71st after withdrawing due to illness after nine holes in the first round; he toughed it out and shot a 76 that same afternoon and came back on Saturday to shoot an even par 72, with five birdies and eight pars. 
             Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers remained the individual leader, firing a 1-over 73 for a 7-under 209 heading into the final round; that’s good for a four-shot lead over Southern California’s Paul Smith, who was one of five players tied for second but moved into sole possession of the runner-up spot after a 72 Saturday for a 2-under 214 total.
            The fourth and final round of the Pac-12 Championships is set for Sunday with an 8:30 a.m. MDT start; the schools will begin on both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees.  Colorado will be paired with Southern Cal and Arizona State and will tee off on No. 1 at 8:30.

NOTES: The first round scoring average was 75.91, or nearly four strokes over par, though it dropped to 74.72 for the second round; but for the third round, it ballooned to 77.32; all six CU players scored below that figure as the Buffs averaged 74.0 … The 364 was CU’s second best gross score in a Pac-12 Championship, but the 4-over in relation to par was its best in the 11 rounds its posted in the league meet since joining the conference on July 1, 2011.




David Oraee



Ethan Freeman



Yannik Paul



Jeremy Paul



Drew Trujillo



Philip Juel-Berg




Patrick Rodgers, Stanford



Paul Smith, USC



Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington



Brandon Hagy, California



Cameron Wilson, Stanford













Southern California



Arizona State












Oregon State






Washington State