CSU golf falters in eighth-place finish in first tournament of spring

Mack Beaulieu

The Colorado State men’s golf team started its spring schedule with a respectable but disappointing finish in the National Invitation Tournament on Monday as they managed just a top-eight finish after finishing top five in every tournament previously this season.

Sophomore A.J. Ott and freshman Parathakorn Suyasri kept the Rams afloat with strong play in the first two rounds.

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Boy playing golf
Sophomore AJ Ott finishes a swing during a practice round at Fort Collins Country Club. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

Coming in during the midst of one of the Rams’ strongest starts ever, the men had a chance to show themselves against high level competition in Tucson, Ariz. With eleven teams in the tournament in the Golfweek top 100, the Rams topped the field with a ranking of No.18 coming in, but struggled to keep up with the power conference teams and Mountain West rivals who finished in front of them.

At the end of the first round, the Rams were well within reach of continuing their season long streak of top five finishes as they were just four shots behind UNLV for second when the round ended. The University of Arizona dominated the first round with a 21-under 267, eleven shots ahead of UNLV.

It was UNLV’s weekend from there as the Rebels were absolutely lights-out in the second round with all five players improving their score and shooting between 3- and 7-under. The Rams meanwhile, drifted further back from the leaders as the day progressed.

Suyasri and Ott improved two strokes to finish 4-under for the round, to finish tied at 6-under at the end of the second round. However, Jake Staiano struggled and shot seven strokes worse than his first round.

CSU’s sixth-place tie at the end of the second round was a hefty 17 shots behind UNLV. The lower ranked Mountain West team stormed ahead, still in second but with a 22-under 266 for the round and they took the tournament from there.

Still only one shot outside of the top five, the Rams couldn’t close the gap on Monday as Suyasri and Ott failed to match their scores from Sunday and hovered around par with the rest of the team.

Early on, it looked as if Ott might make a run at the tournament’s individual leaders as he pushed his score to 9-under on the front nine of his third round. A double bogey and bogey early in the back nine decreased his chances at individual victory, though.

From there, Ott never got closer to the leaders and the Rams continued to drop places as the University of Nevada, University of North Texas and the University of Texas-El Paso all excelled past the Rams, as they just held on to eighth place to finish in the top half of the 16-team tournament.

If not for a strong return from Staiano with a par finish on the round and Colton Yate’s best finish of the two-day tournament with a 2-under, the Rams would have slid further down the board as they beat out the university of Utah and New Mexico State by just one stroke.

AJ Ott finished first for the Rams while tying for 20th overall in the 92-man tournament with a 5-under 211. Suyasri came up next with a 33rd-place finish and a 3-under 213. Staiano and Yates finished tied for 53rd by shooting 3-over 219 and Max Oelfke brought up the rear with a 61st-place finish and a 4-over 220.

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The Rams will have a long layover  until they begin play at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic on March 12, hosted by the University of San Diego and San Diego State.

Collegian reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Macknz_James.