The Field: Seven of the nation's top-25 teams in the latest MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings, which were released December 1, will be in action next week at the PING Arizona Intercollegiate. In addition to Arizona, teams such as sixth-ranked Arizona State, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 Washington, No. 19 UCLA, No. 23 New Mexico and No. 25 Colorado will be competing for the title. The rest of the field includes Arkansas, California, UC-Irvine, Colorado, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Southern California and Tulsa. Individually, Arizona State's Paul Casey is the top-ranked golfer in the tournament at No. 6, followed by No. 12 Martin Maritz of Tulsa and 16th-ranked Troy Kelly of Washington.
Arizona's Lineup: The Wildcats lineup will be determined following qualifying rounds on Friday... The team will practice Wednesday through Friday at the Raven with tee time set between 1:40 and 2:00 p.m.
The UA's Last Action: Arizona last saw action as a team on October 31 when the Wildcats tied for 6th place at the Nelson Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. They finished with a team score of 860 at the Stanford Golf Course (Par-71, 6,756 yards), which was 13 strokes behind first place Stanford. The Cardinal won with a team total of 847, which was one stroke better than second-place Fresno State. Northwestern finished in third place with a score of 204. Arizona's top golfer was Derek Gillespie, who posted his second of three top-10 finishes on the fall season by tying for 4th with a 3-under-par 210. Freshman Ricky Barnes tied for 10th with a 2-under-par 211; Cody Beyer tied for 30th at 217; Reid Hatley tied for 83rd (227) and Patrick Norris tied for 97th (231).
Last Year's PING: Washington shot a three-round total of 9-over-par 861 to win the 1999 PING Arizona Intercollegiate by three strokes over USC. The Huskies entered the final day in a tie for second place but edged the Trojans by three strokes with a 291 in the final round. UCLA was third with a score of 868, while Fresno State - the leader after two rounds - finished fourth at 870 after shooting an 18-over-par 302 in the final round. Florida and Arizona State tied for fifth at 871. Arizona finished ninth with a score of 879 (291-293-295). Individually, Washington's Robb Bergeson entered the final round in a tie for fifth place, but won the tournament by one shot with a three-round total of 4-under-par 209 (71-68-70). Stanford's Joel Kribel placed second at 3-under-par 210. Arizona's Derek Gillespie was the leader entering the final round but shot a 3-over-par 74 to fall into a tie for third with UC-Irvine's Mike Lawrence at 2-under-par 211.
Arizona's Coaching Staff: Arizona's head men's golf coach, Rick LaRose, is in his 22nd season at the helm of the program and is assisted by John Knauer, who begins his second year at the UA... LaRose has directed both the Wildcat men's and women's golf programs to an NCAA title (men-1992; women-1996) .. He is the only coach in NCAA golf history to achieve such a feat... He has also guided both programs to six NCAA Regional championships and five Pac-10 titles, while winning 40 men's tourneys and 17 women's tournament titles... He has been the head coach of the UA men's golf program since 1979 and was the women's head coach from 1995-98.
Up Next: Arizona will travel to Honolulu, Hawaii to participate in the John Burns Invitational on Feb. 23-25. A Look Back at the Fall: Arizona posted four top-10 finishes in five fall tournaments. The Cats placed second at their first tournament of the season, The Ridges Intercollegiate, behind the play of freshman Patrick Norris who placed second individually at 3-under-par 213... Arizona followed that with an eighth-place finish at the W.H. Tucker Intercollegiate led by senior Derek Gillespie, who tied for fifth individually at 1-under-par 215... Gillespie also tied with freshman Ricky Barnes for the team's top score at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. They tied for 18th at 2-over-par 215, while the team was 7th in the final standings... Gillespie's fourth-place outing at the Nelson Invitational guided the Cats to their sixth-place effort in that tournament... Gillespie also participated in the Savane College All-America Golf Classic in November. He fired a 67 in the final round to finish tied for fifth at 3-under-par 210 in a tournament that featured two dozen of the top collegiate men's golfers.
The Talented Mr. Gillespie: Senior Derek Gillespie was an All-America selection in 1999 after tying for sixth at the NCAA Championships... He shot a 6-over-par 294 (72-71-76-75) and was in second place after two rounds - just two shots off the lead... He entered the NCAAs not ranked among the nation's top-100, but finished the season as the country's No. 45 golfer in the final MasterCard rankings... He was also named to the All-Pac-10 second team after he tied for 20th at the Pac-10 Championships with a 10-over-par 290 (76-73-67-74)... Gillespie played in 12 tournaments in 1998-99 and had five top-20 finishes and two top-10 outings... He has already improved on that mark with three top-10 outings in the 1999 fall season alone, including a pair of top-five outings in his last two tournaments (Tied for 4th at Nelson and Tied for 5th at Savane)... He owns the team's top scoring average at 71.50 and has been Arizona's top finisher in three out of five tournaments on the season.
Fresh Faces: Three of Arizona's top contributors in the fall season were freshmen. Head Coach Rick LaRose has gathered one of the best recruiting classes in the nation in Patrick Norris (Orlando, Fla.), Ricky Barnes (Stockton, Calif.), and Reid Hatley (Spokane, Wash.)... The trio combined to record two top-10 and two top-20 finishes in the fall season alone... As mentioned above, Norris posted a second-place finish in his first collegiate competition at The Ridges Intercollegiate... Barnes came to Arizona ranked 17th in the country for the class of 1999 and 42nd overall. He had four runner-up finishes in his AJGA career, including three in a row toward the end of 1999. His 71.87 stroke average going into this week's tournament is the second best on the team behind Gillespie's 71.50 average... Hatley was ranked 10th among American Junior Golfers Association class of 1999 players at the end of the season and was the No. 18 player in the country overall. He won the 1999 AJGA Compaq Junior Championship at Trophy Lake and had five top-10 performances during his AJGA career. Hatley tied for 23rd at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate in the fall.
Congrats to Former Cats: Recent Arizona alum Rory Sabbatini earned a second-place finish at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic last weekend. He narrowly missed picking up his first PGA Tour victory by finishing a stroke behind the champion, Jesper Parnevik... Arizona alum and current PGA golfer, Jim Furyk, was a member of the United States Ryder Cup team and was instrumental in the historic comeback on the final day of play. Furyk, who golfed at the UA from 1988-92 and was a part of the Cats' 1992 NCAA title team, beat Spain's Sergio Garcia 4 & 3 on the final day in the singles matches, helping the U.S. record a come-from-behind win and record a 14 -to-13 victory.
Did You Know: A lot has been made over the years about the success of the Arizona basketball program and its 15 straight appearances in the NCAA Basketball Tournament... Well, the Arizona men's golf team is on Lute Olson's hoopsters heels with 13 consecutive NCAA showings... Also, with the UA men's golf team advancing to the NCAA Championships last year, 17 of the 19 sports at the University of Arizona qualified for NCAA postseason play in 1998-99... In addition, Arizona was the only school in the country that has/had a team playing in this year's NCAA softball world series, NCAA baseball tournament, NCAA women's golf championships and NCAA men's golf championships... Arizona is one of seven schools have made at least 10 consecutive trips to the NCAA Championships... The schools and the consecutive years they have contended are: Oklahoma State (53), Clemson (18), Florida (17), Arizona State (16), Arizona (13), UNLV (11) and North Carolina (11).
Arizona Golf History: In five of the past 10 seasons, Arizona has produced a first team All-America golfer... There have been two National Players of the Year from the UA -- Eric Meeks (1989) and Robert Gamez (1990)... Those two were also the National Amateur of the Year (Meeks in 1988; Gamez in 1989)... The Wildcats won the 1992 NCAA national championship... UA has also won two Pac-10 titles and has been the league runner-up on six occasions... In six of the past 11 years, Arizona has spent time ranked as the nation's No. 1 team, including the 1997-98 team, which spent most as the 1997-98 season in the top spot... Arizona alums on the PGA Tour include such names as Jim Furyk, Robert Gamez, Don Pooley, Rory Sabbatini, Mike Springer, Larry Silveira, Ted Purdy and Dan Pohl... There have been four Arizona golfers named (five overall selections) to the United States Walker Cup team - Berganio was a two time performer... Since Rick LaRose took over as head coach in 1979, there have been 32 All-America first team, second team, third team or honorable mention golfers from the UA.