On the Tee: The sixth-ranked University of Arizona men's golf team returns to action this week at the Ping/Golfweek NCAA Preview in Durham, N.C. The tournament is contested at the Duke University Golf Club, site of the 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championships.
The Rankings: UA remains ranked in the top 10 in two of three major college golf polls. The Cats are No. 6 in the MasterCard/CGF poll, No. 7 in Golf World and No. 12 in the Golfweek rankings. Individually, two Wildcat golfers are ranked nationally. Ricky Barnes, the 2000 National Freshman of the Year, is ranked sixth in the MasterCard/CGF poll and seventh in the Golf World poll, while fellow sophomore Reid Hatley check in at No. 24 on the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
Tourney Facts: The NCAA Preview features a stellar field that includes 14 of the top 20 teams ranked in the current MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings. Additionally, 12 of the 15 schools, including 2000 NCAA Champion Oklahoma State, participated in last spring's NCAA Championship. In addition to Arizona, the following teams are scheduled to compete: Arizona State, Auburn, BYU, Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Kent State, UNLV, Northwestern, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Texas, and TCU. The two-day, 54-hole event takes place at the Duke University Golf Club, a 72, 7,054-yard layout. Thirty-six holes will be played on Monday, Sept. 25, and 18 on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
The Probable Lineup: Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Reid Hatley So. 70.67 1/0 69 1
Chris Nallen Fr. 72.67 0/1 72 1
Ricky Barnes So. 73.00 0/0 72 1
Cody Beyer Jr. 74.33 0/0 71 1
Tim Weiss Jr. -- -- -- -
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 23rd season at the helm of the Arizona golf program, coach Rick LaRose has established the Wildcats as one of the finest in the nation. The only college coach to win both a men's (1992) and women's (1996) NCAA Championship, LaRose's teams have won seven NCAA Regionals, five Pac-10 crowns and two Rolex Match Play titles. In NCAA Championship competition, he also has four third-place finishes, a fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit. Since 1978, his men's teams have won 42 tournaments and produced 55 All-Americans. He is assisted by John Knauer.
Last Time Out: The University of Arizona men's golf team posted the lowest team total of the final round and earned a third-place finish at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. The sixth-ranked Wildcats fired a final-round 285 (-3) and finished third in the 23-team field. Three of Arizona's five golfers scored at par or better as the Cats shaved eight strokes off its second-round deficit. BYU won the team competition with a team total of 861 (-3), two strokes ahead of UNLV and four strokes in front of Arizona. Reid Hatley, a sophomore from Spokane, Wash., led the Wildcats as he tied for third place. Hatley posted a four-under-par total of 140 in Saturday's 36 holes, including a final-round 69, to finish in the top three. He was one of two Arizona golfers to finish in the top 20. BYU's Billy Harvey won individual medalist honors with a three-round total of 207 (-9). Freshman Chris Nallen turned in a strong performance, posting a top-20 finish in his first collegiate event. The Blairstown, N.Y., native posted a three-round total of 218 to finish in a tie for 18th place. Sophomore Ricky Barnes and junior Brandon Smith finished in a tie for 25th place at 219. Barnes' fired a final-round 72, his lowest round of the tournament. Other Arizona finishers included junior Cody Beyer, who finished tied for 43rd at 223, and freshman Andy Connell, who finished tied for 81st at 230.
In the 60s: Reid Hatley's final-round 69 at The Tucker ensured his second career top-10 finish. His 212 (-4) aggregate was the second-best total of his career, topped only by a 210 (-6) at the 2000 NCAA West Regional. The 69 was also the fourth time in his career that Hatley has carded a sub-70 round.
Nice Debut: Freshman Chris Nallen registered quite a performance for Arizona in his first collegiate tournament. He earned a top-20 finish with a three-round score of 218 and posted countable totals in all three rounds. Nallen ranks second on the team with a 72.67 stroke average.
What a Difference a Year Makes: Maybe it was freshman jitters last year, but sophomore Ricky Barnes put forth a better effort in this season's first tournament. Battling a sore back, Barnes managed to tally a 219 (+3) total to tie for 25th place. Last season, Barnes' debuted with a 225 (+9) to finish in a tie for 38th place. That three-round total at the 1999 Ridges Intercollegiate is still the highest three-round total of his career.
Chip Ins: Arizona's third-place finish at The Tucker marked the Cats' fifth straight top-five finish dating back to last season ... The Cats have also had at least one individual finish in the top five in those same five events ... Arizona's final-round total of 285 at The Tucker was the lowest team total over the last 18 holes. It also erased five strokes from the squad's second-round deficit.
1999-2000 In Review: From beginning the year not ranked in the preseason top-25 to finishing third and just two strokes behind the leaders at the NCAA Championship, the 1999-2000 Arizona men's golf season was one that will go down as one of the most rewarding in the program's history. Continuing to improve every step of the way with a top-five lineup that consisted of two seniors, a sophomore and two true freshmen, the Cats won two tournaments, including the NCAA West Regional, and placed second four times. After its unexpected third place showing at the NCAA Championships, Arizona ended the season ranked sixth in the country and was the highest ranked Pac-10 Conference team in the final poll.