MARANA, Ariz. — The University of Colorado men’s golf team completed a meteoric rise in the standings in less than a 24-hour span here Sunday, as the Buffaloes finished fourth in the 55th annual Pac-12 Championships.
               No. 3 Stanford captured its first Pac-12 title since 1994, the year before Tiger Woods enrolled, as the Cardinal took a 21-stroke lead into the final round and cruised to a 15-shot victory with a 2-under par 1,438 team score.  No. 10 Washington took runner-up honors after posting the tournament’s best round Sunday – a 14-under 346 – closing with a 1,453 total, while No. 4 California slipped into third with 1,467.
               The No. 53 Buffaloes matched the second best single round of the meet, recording a 6-under 354 Sunday, and completed their vault up the standings into fourth place with a 39-over par 1,479 total.  Occasionally occupying 11th place at a few junctures in the second round which was completed Saturday morning, CU made its big move from 10th into sixth from the second to third rounds, and polished off its climb Sunday by joining Stanford and Washington as the only schools with four or more players to shoot par or better in the fourth and final round.
               It was CU’s best finish in a conference championship since taking second in the 2009 Big 12 meet (and just its second upper division – top six – effort in its last 10 league title affairs).  In the process, the Buffaloes defeated seven teams ahead of them in the rankings, including No. 17 UCLA, No. 20 USC and No. 25 Arizona State, the latter two of whom were paired with CU in the final round.
               “We had two very good final rounds and a solid finish overall, so we’re definitely pleased with the team result,” CU head coach Roy Edwards said.  “I am so proud of each and every one of these young men, and they all contributed.  This team has just kept improving throughout the year, week-by-week, and I expect that trend to continue.
                “This is probably one of the best moves up a leaderboard that I’ve ever been associated with,” he added.  “The guys didn’t freak out a whole lot (after Friday’s disappointment), they came out Saturday motivated to play well and then came out today motivated again after how well we did in third round.  It’s proof that confidence makes all the difference in the world.”
               After just 23 holes worse than par in Saturday’s third round, a tournament best that included just one double bogey and nothing higher, the Buffaloes came back in the final round with just 19 – 16 bogeys and three doubles.  Only Stanford and Washington had fewer Sunday and no one had fewer than the Buffs on the weekend.  And Edwards knew why.
               “Everyone did a great job of keeping the ball in the play,” he noted.  “We took advantage when we could make birdie, but we didn’t try to press things.  Otherwise, we just did what we could with what we had, and that was keeping the ball in front of us, being satisfied with par and moving on.”
               Junior David Oraee led the Buffaloes here, posting CU’s best individual finish in a conference meet in five years in tying for 12th place; he was a model of consistency all weekend, recording a 72-74-74-73—293 scorecard (5-over) on the 7,349-yard, par-72 Gallery Golf Club layout.  He had 11 birdies, 47 pars, 12 bogeys and two doubles, and played both the 40 par-4 holes and the 16 par-5 holes even for the tournament (sixth and 21st, respectively, in the field).  His par count was the second most by a Buff but the seventh most overall.
                Freshman Ethan Freeman used a 3-under 69 Sunday to tie for 16th with a 6-over 294 total.  He tied for the team lead with 13 birdies, which were also 16th-most in the field, and played the 16 combined challenging par-3 holes here the best of all the Buffaloes and the sixth-best in the field at 1-over par.  He also played the par-5s at 1-over, 18th among all here.
               Freeman’s finish is the highest by a CU freshman in a league championship since Kevin Kring tied for 12th in the 2009 Big 12 event, and the ninth all-time Buff frosh best.  He also tied for third among the 14 freshmen competing here this weekend, behind Washington’s Corey Pereira (291) and Stanford’s Maverick McNealy (292).
              “Ethan coming out and playing well in Scottsdale (two weeks ago in the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate) and then playing well in a championship event wasn’t easy since he hadn’t competed much this spring,” Edwards said.  “We’ve really been pleased with him and how well he responded to the challenge.” 
                Freshman Jeremy Paul had three straight rounds over par to lead off his Pac-12 debut, just the second time this year CU’s stroke average leader had a run of that many.  But he also came in with a Buff best 71.8 final round average – and he would lower it after recording a 3-under 69, which enabled him to finish with an 11-over 299, placing him 30th in the final standings.  He tied Freeman for the team lead in birdies with 13, and played the par-5 holes the best of all the Buffaloes at 3-under, 13th-best in the field.  The 69 was officially his 17th subpar round of the year, and he is now one shy of the school record.
                 Freshman Yannik Paul wrapped things up with a 1-under 71, nicely following up his third round 69 for an overall score of 12-over 300, tying him for 31st; his 4-under 140 over the final 36 holes was the third best in the field as he reversed courses from his first two rounds when he had an abnormally high 12 holes worse than par.  Over his last two rounds, he had just four – all bogeys – and he finished with a team-best 48 pars, which were third-best in the entire field.
                Sophomore Drew Trujillo finished up with an 8-over 80, giving him a 23-over par 311 for the tournament which tied him for 56th.  Even through seven holes, things started to get away from him when he scored a double bogey on No. 8; he was still hanging at 3-over through 12, but he played the next four holes at 5-over.   He played the tough par-3 holes the second-best of all the Buffaloes and the 13th-best in the field, as he was 2-over for the 16 of those in the meet.
                Sophomore Philip Juel-Berg closed with a second straight even-par 72, though did not post an official 72-hole score after withdrawing in Friday’s first round after nine holes due to illness.  He did rally to return to action and play the second round that afternoon and shot a 76; his 4-over par 220 over the final 54 holes tied for the 12th best score in the field.  He had three birdies and 13 pars Sunday and 10 and 32, respectively over his final three rounds.
               “Philip doing what he did speaks volumes about him,” Edwards said.  “He was not playing for him, he was just playing for the team, and it’s really easy to lose your focus.  But each of his three rounds counted (toward CU’s team score).   Overall, everyone was battling, and this is what can come of it.”
              Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers took over the lead thanks to three eagles in an eight-hole span in the second round and went on to earn medalist honors, closing the tournament with a 72 for a 7-under 281.  He held off a late charge from Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, who fired a 4-under 68 Sunday for a 5-under 283.  Just six players in the field finished under par, with none matching it over 72 holes.
              Colorado should be in very good position to qualify for one of the six regional sites for the NCAA Championships, which will take place May 15-17; those who will advance to the postseason will be announced on the NCAA Selection Show at 9 a.m. MDT on the Golf Channel on Monday, May 5.  This year’s regional sites are in Auburn, Ala., Columbia, Mo., Eugene, Ore., Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio, Texas and Sugar Grove, Ill.


NOTES: It was Colorado’s fifth straight top four finish in a major tournament, and the eighth top five finish this season, a school record (all eight have been in the top four) … Yannik Paul’s 69 in the third round and the windy, wet and cold conditions was the best in the field on Saturday, a round Edwards called one of the best he’s ever seen in his 15 years as a head or assistant coach …  The top three teams for the final 36 holes: 1. Washington 716; 2. Colorado 718; 3. Stanford 722 … Jeremy Paul and Freeman joined Yannik in shooting 69s here, and thus matched Kevin Kring for CU’s previous best in a Pac-12 Championship, which he accomplished in 2012 at Corvallis (also 3-under par); all three of the 69s this year were by freshmen, tying for the second best score by a frosh in conference meet: the low remains a 68 by Mike Mulhern in the 72 Big 8 Championship at Boulder Country Club … The first round scoring average was 75.91, dropping to 74.72 for the second round; in the third round, it ballooned to 77.32; all six CU players scored below that figure as the Buffs averaged 74.0; the fourth round average was the lowest at 73.67 with the overall average for the meet 75.40 … The 354 was CU’s best gross score in a Pac-12 Championship and first subpar (6-under) round in relation to par in the 12 rounds it has posted in the league meet since joining the conference on July 1, 2011 … Colorado is now 121-42-7 against Division I competition, including a 19-18-2 record against its Pac-12 rivals, the first time the Buffs have ever been over .500 against the member schools this late in any year, including CU’s time in the Big 8 and Big 12 … The NCAA Championship Finals are slated for May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.; Wichita State is serving as host.




David Oraee



Ethan Freeman



Jeremy Paul



Yannik Paul



Drew Trujillo



Philip Juel-Berg




Patrick Rodgers, Stanford



Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington



Cameron Wilson, Stanford



Joel Stalter, California



Eric Sugimoto, USC



Blake Snyder, Washington St.
















Southern California



Arizona State












Oregon State



Washington State