Throughout a season that has featured plenty of ups and downs, Dylan McDermott has been a model of consistency for the Colorado men’s golf team.
At least he was until he wasn’t two weeks ago, when he at times struggled through the NCAA Central Regional. Yet it nonetheless turned out to be a memorable tournament for the Buffaloes, as McDermott rallied late and Colorado rode a clutch team-wide effort to a third-place finish.
On Friday, the Buffs will begin play at the NCAA championships at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. It will be CU’s first appearance in the championship since 2002.
“It obviously means a lot. It’s really hard to get there,” CU head coach Roy Edwards said. “It’s a little bit like advancing out of the first weekend in basketball. It’s pretty similar to what women’s basketball did. We’ve been in the tournament a bunch of times and we’ve played well. We just didn’t advance to the final.
“It’s quite the environment around the championship, and to do it with this team and how we’ve really started to grow and develop as a team, it’s been really special.”
It is a youthful club that has broken the Buffs’ NCAA finals drought, as the five players who filled the lineup at the regional included one true freshman (Hunter Swanson) and four sophomores (McDermott, Justin Biwer, Tucker Clark and Jack Holland).
The effort at the regional showed a team playing beyond its years. CU remained in the top five throughout the tournament after Swanson (3-under 69) and Biwer (2-under 70) got the Buffs off to a strong start in the opening round. Round two saw Clark fire a 67 after struggling to a 77 a day earlier, and none of the Buffs were above par in the final round.
“The reality is that Dylan has been by far our best player, and he played his worst tournament of the year (at the regional) and still battled and shot a great final round that was huge,” Edwards said. “It was probably the most excited I’d ever seen him after the round was over. That tells you a lot about the team aspect and how important it is.
“It just was across the board a very, very good week. We’ve been seeing signs of that from all five guys. We haven’t seen it consistently throughout the year, but flashes of really good play. But in the last month or so, we’ve really been putting it all together.”
Edwards is set to roll out the same lineup this week, with senior Jack Hughes serving as an alternate. The Buffs will be paired with Chattanooga and New Mexico on Friday (9 a.m. MT start) and Saturday (2:20 p.m. MT).
The tournament format features four rounds of stroke play that begins Friday. After three rounds, the 30-team field is cut to 15, plus the top nine individuals not on those teams, for the fourth round. After that, the field is cut to the final eight teams that advance to the final rounds of match play on Tuesday and Wednesday.