Hitting the links in Hawaii

Feb 222005
Authors: Jim Lawn

The men's golf team is Hawaii-bound. Beaches, hula dancers and leis are some of the trip's frills, but the team is not going on vacation.

The team is heading to Hawaii to compete in the John A. Burns Intercollegiate tournament for its spring season opener today through Friday.

The tourney is hosted by the University of Hawai'i and will be played at Leilehua Golf Course in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

This year's tournament field will consist of 21 teams, including Arizona, who won last year's tournament, Auburn, Denver, Hawaii, Texas-El Paso, Texas A&M and California-Santa Barbara. Five of CSU's Mountain West Conference opponents will also be in the tournament, including Brigham Young, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Utah.

The tournament's format will be a 54-hole stroke play, with the lowest four scores counted each round for the team total. Team and individual ties will be broken by a sudden-death playoff.

In last year's visit to Hawaii, the Rams took a sixth place tie with a three-round team score of 849 (15 under par). This year the Rams are looking to fill the void left by the loss of last year's seniors Martin Laird and Nolan Martin, who both took second place last year with final round scores of 64 each.

This year the team has only one senior, John Hayes. Hayes must step up this year into the role of team leader. Other players looking to step up this spring are juniors Kevin McAlpine and Nate Pettitt.

Last fall McAlpine was the team leader with two top-10 finishes and a 72.06 scoring average. He also ranked sixth in Division I in par 5 scoring with a 4.48 average. Pettitt also finished the fall strongly with 74.80 scoring average.

The Rams are No. 73 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index rankings. Three MWC teams are ranked in the top 20: New Mexico (4), BYU (13) and UNLV (18). This season the Rams hope to continue to emerge as one of the premier golf programs in the country by qualifying for their 10th-straight NCAA Tournament bid.

CSU will compete in six spring tournaments prior to playing in the MWC Championship in Sunriver, Ore. On March 7-8 the Rams head to Orlando, Fla., to compete in the Irish Spring Invitational.

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