NORTH PLAINS, Ore. - The University of Colorado men's golf team arrived in this northwest Portland suburb Saturday to prepare for one of the more interesting fall tournaments it will ever play, as the inaugural Pac-12 Fall Preview is set for Monday and Tuesday and will feature all 12 conference programs in an early season test for all.
When Colorado was a member of the Big 7, 8 and 12 conferences, all the schools never competed in the same tournament ahead of the spring league championship; apparently, it's the first time the former members of the Pac-10 Conference are doing the same, the group now in its second year as the Pac-12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah in 2011.
The golfers will get a treat as well, as the tournament will be played on the renowned 7,017-yard, par-72 Witch Hollow Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. The course has hosted several high profile events from the 1996 U.S. Amateur to several LPGA Tour events.
It is expected to be one of the strongest fields in college golf this fall, headlined by unanimous top-ranked California, as the Golden Bears are No. 1 in the NIKE/Golf Coaches, Golfweek and GolfStat rankings as of this week. Washington is ranked third in two of the polls and fifth in the other, while UCLA is fourth in a pair and fifth in the other giving the Pac-12 three unanimous top five programs one month into season.
Six other programs are in the top 50: Stanford (No. 13 its highest rank), Oregon (No. 25), Colorado (No. 32), Oregon State (No. 36) and Washington State (No. 47). Southern California has not yet played this fall, and is thus not yet ranked in the computer polls by Golfweek and GolfStat, but the Trojans are No. 14 in the coaches' poll.
Colorado head coach Roy Edwards is looking forward to this intriguing event.
"It is going to be exciting because our league has tremendous pride in the quality of its golf programs," Edwards said. "To my knowledge, the Pac-12 is the only league at present to attempt this type of event. When it was suggested, every single school was all-in immediately. I definitely like the idea of showcasing the league on one of the great modern courses in the U.S. It will be great to see how the event grows and evolves."
"Our expectation every week is to play with confidence and focus on the shot at hand," Edwards said. "The guys have proven that if they do that then we can perform at a very high level. This event is such that if you play well you can beat some of the top teams and players in the nation. But if you don't play well, you will get smoked."
The five Buffaloes who will participate here (and their fall stroke averages) are seniors Jason Burstyn (71.3), Derek Fribbs (72.0) and Beau Schoolcraft (73.2), sophomore David Oraee (72.8) and freshman Philip Juel-Berg (72.9). All five have played in CU's four fall tournaments to date, or 11 rounds each.
The Buffaloes are paired with Cal, Stanford and Utah and will tee off at 9:32 a.m. (MDT) on the first hole, with 36 holes scheduled for Monday and the final 18 on Tuesday.