The University of Colorado men's golf team moved up two spots into a third place finish as the inaugural Kansas State Bighorn Invitational in Palm Desert, Calif., came to a close.
No. 15 Illinois broke open a tightly contested logjam at the top of the standing, running away from the field with a team score of 40-under par 824 after firing a sizzling final round score of 20-under 268. The Fighting Illini entered the day with a four-shot lead with five teams separated by a total of eight shots, including the Buffaloes in fifth. No. 76 Mississippi State played its best event of the year in finishing second, 10 shots back at 30-under 834, with the No. 47 Buffaloes in at 21-under 843 to take the bronze spot in the standings. No. 30 Brigham Young and No. 35 Kansas tied for fourth at 13-under 851.
The Buffaloes got off to a great start on Saturday, scoring four birdies on the No. 1 hole, which played as the third toughest in the second round (+0.21 over par). The four players who would score on the day for CU made the turn at a combined 11-under par, scoring 15 birdies and just four bogeys with the rest pars. That thrusted the team from fifth place and eight strokes back of the lead at the start of the day into second and four shots out.
Colorado had it as low as 13-under early on the back nine, but some late bogey troubles, including one double, reduced the day's effort to a 9-over 279, still CU's fifth-best single round team score of the season.
"It was good to see a really hot start out of four of the guys," CU head coach Roy Edwards said. "They all hit it really close and made good putts. We just tapered off a little bit in the end, but that didn't hurt us in the standings.
"We beat some good teams, Illinois just ran away with it and Mississippi State had a good week," he added. "Going in, I thought we had a chance if we could turn in a round of 15-under or so, but Illinois shot lights out. Kansas and BYU have had good years, so we picked up some quality wins here and did it on a course where you had to manage your game or you could be all over the place."
Sophomore Daniel O'Loughlin spent much of the day in the lead after opening with five birdies on his first eight holes, making the turn at 5-under on the 7,000-yard, par-72 The Canyons course at Bighorn Golf Club.
Senior Yannik Paul fashioned a 1-under 71 to close things out, as he tied for sixth overall with a 7-under 209 score.