In Limbo

CSU men fall a little short of conference title; Rams are on the bubble for getting a team into NCAA regionals; Connor Jones, Martin Laird named to MWC 25th-Season Team; CU places 8th in final Pac-12 tourney

By Gary Baines – 4/28/2024

Now the waiting begins.

The Colorado State men’s golf program had hoped to guarantee itself a full-team berth into the NCAA regionals by winning the Mountain West Conference tournament in Creswell, Ore.

Alas, after being in the mix for the title on Sunday, the Rams finished in third place out of 11 teams, three strokes behind New Mexico and San Diego State. (The Air Force Academy placed 11th.) So CSU will have to hope for an at-large spot in regionals when the 81-school fields are announced on Wednesday at noon (MT) on Golf Channel.

The problem is, the Rams are right on the bubble for getting in. According to predictions made on the Golf Channel website on Tuesday, the cut-off for at-large berths will come around No. 69 in the Scoreboard Powered by clippd rankings. And, in the most recent rankings, CSU is — you guessed it — 69th

(May 1 Update: The Rams did receive one of the final at-large berths.)

CSU last won the MWC tournament in 2010. The Rams also captured the top spot in 2008.

CSU is coming off a 2022-23 season in which it advanced to the NCAA national championships — the potential stop after regionals — for the first time since 2011.

On Sunday, the Rams put all of their players in the top 30 individually at the conference tournament, with 2022 CGA Men’s Player of the Year Connor Jones of Westminster leading the way way with a fifth-place showing.

After rounds of 72-70-70, the fifth-year senior ended up at 4 under par, three strokes behind champion Cole Rueck of Boise State.

For all the scores from the MWC tournament, CLICK HERE.

Prior to the tournament, the MWC named a 25th-Season Team — as it has in other sports. Two CSU Rams — one current and the other from the early years of the conference — made the 25-man squad. Martin Laird, a Denver-area resident who has gone on to win four times on the PGA Tour, was one, and current Ram Jones also made the grade, as did Xander Schauffele of San Diego State (seven PGA Tour victories) and Ryan Moore of UNLV (five). Laird won six individual titles during his college days, while Jones has landed four in his three seasons at CSU after transferring from the University of Denver, where he had one individual win. Both Laird and Jones won the individual MWC title once.

— Meanwhile, at the final men’s Pac-12 tournament, the University of Colorado finished in eighth place in the four-round event. The Buffs needed to place third or better to keep their hopes alive to advance a full team to the NCAA Regionals, so they’ll hope for an individual berth or two when the fields are announced on Wednesday. Leading CU at the Pac-12 meet were Justin Biwer (15th place after closing with a 68) and Dylan McDermott (29th place after a 73 on Sunday). For all the scores from the Pac-12 tournament, CLICK HERE.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates