CSU’s Connor Jones starts college season with individual win for 2nd straight year, this time setting scoring record in Ram Masters Invite; however, CSU’s team title streak in event snapped at 8
By Gary Baines – 9/7/2023
When Connor Jones had last competed in a tournament, three weeks ago, he advanced to the round of 32 out of 312 players at the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills, falling victim at that stage to the golfer who would go on to win the championship — and to his own balky putter.
This week, the Westminster resident returned to putting his play under the gun as the Colorado State University senior began his final season of college golf. And if his record-setting performance at Fort Collins Country Club was any indication, the 2022 CGA Player of the Year could be in for big things this season.
As was the case last year, Jones started the campaign with an individual victory. A year after prevailing at the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational at the Air Force Academy, he came out on top — by a whopping nine strokes — at CSU’s own Ram Masters Invitational on Thursday.
It was individual college victory No. 5 for Jones, with four of those coming for CSU and one at the University of Denver before he transferred. Only two other players in Rams men’s history have won four times or more in their CSU careers — four-time PGA Tour champion Martin Laird (6 victories for the Rams) and Ryan Peterson (4).
As for the CSU squad overall, the news wasn’t so good on Thursday. After winning the Ram Masters Invitational eight consecutive times — a streak that started in 2014 (there was no RMI in 2020 during to Covid-19 safety concerns) — CSU finished second in the team race this time. Long Beach State, which was tied with the Rams going into the final round, bested them by 11 strokes on Thursday. LBS checked in at 15 under par overall for 54 holes, and CSU at 4 under.
Jones, who sits No. 88 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, won the individual competition by nine strokes on Thursday. His 13-under-par 197 total (64-65-68) broke the scoring record for the RMI by two strokes. Dan Starzinski of Wyoming finished at 11-under 199 in 2018.
Over the three rounds at Fort Collins CC, Jones carded one eagle, 16 birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on his next-to-last hole on Thursday. Jack Cantlay, younger brother of PGA Tour player Patrick Cantlay, and Long Beach State teammate Clay Seeber tied for second at 4 under par overall.
The Rams, who in May placed 28th in their first team trip to NCAA nationals since 2011, put three players in the top 10 individually this week: Jones, Christoph Bleier (fourth place, 3 under par) and freshman Jake Rodgers (seventh place, 1 under), who was making his college debut.
CSU will turn things around quickly, with its next tournament being the Falcon Invitational at Eisenhower Golf Club Sunday through Tuesday.
For all the scores from the Ram Masters Invite, 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 ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com