Feb 272005
 
Authors: Bob Fernandez

For any athlete who is passionate about his or her sport of choice, four months is a long time to wait in between competitions.

Prior to last week's John Burns Intercollegiate Tournament in Wahiawa, Hawaii, it had been nearly four months since the CSU men's golf team last competed in tournament play.

On Oct. 26, the Rams wrapped up their fall season at the Barona Collegiate Cup in San Diego, Calif., where the team had the season's highest-ranking performance with an 842-stroke, fourth-place finish.

After a four-month-long off-season, an eager group of Rams returned to the links and finished in 12th place among the 22-team field at the John Burns Intercollegiate, a three-day tournament that concluded on Friday.

"Playing tournament golf again was fun," said senior John Hayes. "Thankfully, we had nice weather here in Colorado before we left, and that allowed us to qualify and compete some against one another."

The Rams posted a three-stroke-over-par team score of 867. Hayes led the Rams with a three-day total of 209, which was good enough for a 15th-place tie with Brigham Young's Oscar Alvarez in the 120-player individual rankings.

Hayes's 15th-place finish was his best result since the fall-season opener on Sept. 12 at the Radrick Farms Invitational. At Radrick Farms, Hayes shot a 218 and finished 13th overall.

"I feel like I played well (in the John Burns Intercollegiate)," Hayes said. "As with almost every tournament, there are things that could have been better, but for the first tournament after the off-season, I am content with my performance."

Junior Kevin McAlpine was second among Rams and tied for 33rd overall with 214. Sophomore Derrick Whiting finished tied for 46th with 216. Sophomores Praneeth Perera and Aaron Weston each shot 229, which was good enough for a 101st-place tie with five other players.

Mountain West Conference rivals New Mexico took home the top team honors with an 833-stroke first-place finish.

Ryan Moore of UNLV finished first overall in the individual standing with a 20-under-par 196.

The Rams were in ninth place after two days but fell to 12th in the final day of competition.

"I think that the team had a decent first two days, but we struggled on the final round," Whiting said. "(Hayes) had a good tournament and (McAlpine) was solid. (Weston) and (Perera) struggled. I felt that I had a good first two days, but on the final round I really had a difficult time getting the ball in the hole."

Hayes said the Rams played fairly well in their first tournament since October, but they still have room for improvement.

"As a team, I think we all feel like there were things we did well that we can use to build on, but having said that, there are certainly things we need to improve upon to have the success we are looking for," Hayes said. "We understand that consistency will likely improve as the season progresses, so we're just looking to improve the next time we compete."

The Rams will have a week to work on their games before heading to Orlando, Fla., to compete in the Irish Spring Invitational. The two-day tournament will take place from March 7-8.

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