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               AUBURN, Ala. — The University of Colorado men’s golf team slipped four notches from fourth to eighth but remained firmly in the hunt to advance after two rounds of play was concluded here Friday in the NCAA Southeast/Auburn Regional.

               No. 1 and defending national champion Alabama extended its lead, as the Crimson Tide recorded the only subpar round for the second straight day, a 4-under 284, to close two rounds with a 5-under 571 team score.  Host and No. 21 Auburn moved up a spot into second place with a 10-over 586, while No. 37 Kennesaw State is now third (12-over 588).

               Colorado, ranked No. 48, didn’t enjoy the same success it had on Thursday, but the Buffaloes didn’t play themselves out of it or even into any kind of a corner with an 11-over 299 in the second round.  CU has a 19-over 595 score which has the Buffs eighth, but that is smack in the middle of a logjam where every stroke in Saturday’s final round will count and could mean the difference for the right to advance to the NCAA Championship Finals.

               Only five strokes separate fourth through ninth place, and that’s if Kennesaw doesn’t come back to the pack; figure Alabama won’t and neither would Auburn on its home turf.  The top five teams and the top individual who is not a member of those squads will advance to the Finals.

               “Overall, for as bad as it seemed like we played today, we’re in a desirable position, CU head coach Roy Edwards said.  “It’s going to be a serious dogfight out here tomorrow, but our message is the same.  You have to play with confidence, compete and have fun, and the guys know that.  That’s our focus, and it’s no different than any other point of the year, really.  We just have to go out and focus on that as much as possible.

               “I’m really confident on how we’re going to play tomorrow,” he added.  “This is how the season has kind of gone all year; we’ve have rough patches in almost each one and have usually bounced right back, and this is no different.  The way we were able to regroup and finish at the Pac-12’s should absolutely help us.”

              The Buffaloes have shot a lower final round score than the previous round in five spring tournaments, and matched it in the sixth.  In its last two times out, CU shaved 14 strokes off its score in the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate and 10 shots in the Pac-12 Championships, the effort in the latter enabling CU to finish fourth.

              Junior David Oraee is pacing the Buffaloes here, as he fired a 1-over 73 to give him a 3-over 147, tying him for 16th place; he had four birdies, nine pars and five bogeys Friday.  Birdies here have been hard to come by, as only two players in the field have double figures with the most being 11; Oraee’s six over two rounds are tied for 12th in the field and after opening with a bogey, he recorded three straight birdies, something only two other players in the field have accomplished.  He’s also tied for fifth in par-3 scoring (even) and tied for 16th in par-4 scoring (plus-2).

             He was CU’s next to last player to finish, and his birdie on No. 18 could loom fairly big come the same time on Saturday.

            Sophomore Philip Juel-Berg recorded CU’s best score of the day, a 1-under 71, which propelled him into a tie for 23rd place with a 4-over 148 total.  He had three birdies, 13 pars and two bogeys and is also tied for fifth in par-3 scoring and tied for 18th with 24 pars over the two days. 

             Freshman Jeremy Paul fashioned a 4-over 76, leaving him with a 7-over 151 that has him tied for 39th heading into the final round; it’s tied for eighth best among the 20 freshmen competing here.  He had a birdie, 13 pars, three bogeys and a double Friday, and like Oraee is tied for 16th in par-4 scoring (2-over for the 20 holes) and joined Juel-Berg in being tied for the 18th-most pars (24).

             Freshman Yannik Paul, who entered the day tied for second with a 2-under 70, could never get untracked on Friday.   He opened with two pars, then scored a double bogey on No. 3 followed by two bogeys; he settled down a bit with three straight pars but bogeyed No. 9 to make the turn with a 41.  He was hanging on, 3-over for his first six on the back side, but closed with a quadruple-par-double for the last three.  It all added up to an 86 and a two-day total of 12-over 156, which has him tied for 56th.  His five birdies on Thursday were the second-most in the field, but he had none Friday; the five still are the 20th-most.

             Freshman Ethan Freeman recorded a second straight 7-over 79 and is in 64th place with a 14-over 158 count; he again had three double bogeys which accounted for most of his shots over par, as his 22 total pars in tied for third-most by a Buff and for 35th in the field.  He’s continued to play the par-3 holes well, collectively the eight at 1-over, tied for 18th best.  He was even through six holes before scoring his first double, but he ended the day on a good note with his lone birdie.

             “On the good side, Philip gutted out a 71 and that was really solid, and David ha a good round with a 73,” Edwards said.  “Otherwise we just had our struggles.  The conditions were similar to Thursday, the wind was blowing about the same, gusting to 20 miles per hour.   For Yannik, every that could go wrong did.” 

               Kennesaw State’s Kelby Burton and Alabama’s Cory Whitsett are tied for the individual lead through two rounds with 4-under 140 scores, with Austin Peay State’s Marco Iten in third with a 3-under 141; he’s occupying the individual spot at present that would advance to the Finals, as he is participating here without his team.  They are three of just seven players under par at this juncture, with just two others even after 36 holes.

                Colorado will among the first group to tee off in Saturday’s final round, doing so at 6:30 a.m. (MDT) off the No. 10 tee, with the Buffs paired with UNC-Greensboro and New Mexico.  The top six teams will start on No. 1, beginning 20 minutes later, so the Buffs will be finished and will likely have to watch the scoreboard.

NOTES: An upside to Yannik Paul’s 86 is that he can easily set a record Saturday: the best stroke improvement from one round to the next in a regional by a Buff is 10 shots.  In 2000 at Victoria, Texas, Kane Webber shot a second round 77 and came back with a final round 67; he was also a true freshman that year ... Three other times, a Buff improved eight shots from one round to the next in regional play ... There were two eagles scored on Friday after none on Thursday, both on par-5s by Alabama’s Trey Mullinax (on No. 7) and Auburn’s Jake Mondy (on No. 12) ... The average score on Friday was 75.33 for the 75 players in the field, down from Thursday’s 76.11; for the 150 rounds through 36 holes, it stands at 75.72 ... All seven other Pac-12 teams also remained in contention through two rounds in other regional play to advance to the NCAA Finals, which are scheduled for May 23-28 in Hutchinson, Kan.



David Oraee



Philip Juel-Berg



Jeremy Paul



Yannik Paul



Ethan Freeman




Kelby Burton, Kennesaw State



Cory Whitsett, Alabama



Marco Iten, Austin Peay State



Niclas Carlsson, Auburn



Beau Hossler, Texas










Kennesaw State



Virginia Tech



Brigham Young












New Mexico






Sam Houston State



UC Davis



Alabama State



St. John’s