Makloski's self-assessed penalty drops Rams to 2nd

Colorado State freshman Jimmy Makloski finished T-22 in his first start with the Rams.

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His team trailing Denver by one shot over the final holes of their own Ram Masters Invitational, Colorado State head coach Christian Newton stood in the 18th fairway Sept. 17 and watched freshman Jimmy Makloski line up a birdie putt. When Makloski backed off the ball, Newton knew something was wrong.

As Makloski pulled back his putter, he watched the ball move slightly and so called over a rules official. He was steadfast in repeating what he saw as he was questioned about the movement, and eventually took a one-shot penalty.

“He knew exactly what it meant,” Newton said of the penalty. “It was the last hole. It was to win it.”

Newton’s players generally ask their coach to tell them when the tournament is close. Denver had played ahead of Colorado State, so Newton decided to take his players up on their request.

“I wanted my guys to know what was on the line, for experience,” he said.

Nerves, however, weren’t responsible for Makloski’s ending. He had hit his approach from 150 yards to about 4 feet for birdie at the par-4 18th after "hitting it kind of bad all day," but after calling the penalty, failed to make the short putt. A bogey dropped the Rams to one back of Denver, and junior Cameron Harrell, the eventual co-medalist at 6-under 204, couldn't make up that deficit as he came in behind Makloski. Denver won the event with a 7-over 847 at Fort Collins (Colo.) Country Club, which included a final-round 8-under 272, and Colorado State remained one shot behind. The Rams had led by two at the 36-hole mark, and Denver rallied from seventh place, 11 shots off the lead.

To Newton, the character Makloski showed was more important. Such situations are not something Newton gathers his team to talk about.

“To me, it was very reassuring that Jimmy was who I thought he was when I recruited him,” Newton said of Makloski, of nearby Pueblo. For their part, Makloski’s teammates rallied around the freshman after a difficult decision. Makloski said they made it clear that there were plenty of other opportunities to save strokes that day, and that the tournament didn’t fall on his shoulders.

Makloski finished his first collegiate event at 6-over 216 and tied for 22nd. Infraction committed, he couldn’t imagine things playing out any other way.

“I honestly didn’t want it to move, but I saw it and I know it moved,” he said. Makloski has called such a penalty on himself before – a ball also moved at address in a high school tournament a year ago – but never with so much on the line.

The close call is cause for renewed vigor next week at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate in Albuquerque, N.M.

“It just gives us motivation,” Makloski said.

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