On the Tee: After a two-week layoff, the third-ranked University of Arizona men's golf team returns to action Oct. 16-17 at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate in Birmingham, Ala. The tournament features seven of the top 14 finishers in last year's NCAA Championship.
The Rankings: UA remains ranked in the top 10 in all three major college golf polls. The Cats are tied for No. 3 in the MasterCard/CGF poll, No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, and No. 7 in the Golf World poll. All told, the Wildcats moved up three slots in the MasterCard and eight slots in the Golfweek/Sagarin poll, Individually, two Wildcat golfers are ranked nationally. Ricky Barnes, the 2000 National Freshman of the Year, is ranked fourth in the MasterCard/CGF poll, seventh in the Golf World poll, and 44th in the Golfweek/Sagarin poll, while fellow sophomore Reid Hatley checks in at No. 8 on the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
Tourney Facts: Now in its 15th year, the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate has grown into one of the finest fall events in the country. Nine of the 12 teams entered in this year's field are ranked in the top 20 of the most recent MasterCard/CGF poll. The lineup includes host Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, BYU, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Oklahoma State, UAB, UNLV, and USC. The two-day, 54-hole event takes place at the Old Overton Club, a par 71, 6,936-yard layout. Thirty-six holes will be played on Monday, Oct. 16, and 18 on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
The Probable Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Reid Hatley So. 71.20 2/0 69 2
Ricky Barnes So. 72.80 1/0 72 2
Chris Nallen Fr. 73.60 0/1 72 2
Cody Beyer Jr. 75.00 0/0 71 2
Last Year at the JPNI: The Cats finished in seventh place in last season's JPNI with a three-round total of 855 (+3). Derek Gillespie and Ricky Barnes each tied for 18th place with two-over-par totals of 215. Reid Hatley also saw action in this event, posting a 216 total (+3) to finish tied for 23rd place.
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: Arizona was unable to make up any ground in the final round and finished tied for fourth place at The Preview by Ping & Golfweek. The Wildcats, who were in third place at the conclusion of the first round, carded a final-round 298 and finished in a four-way tie for fourth place at 590 (+14). Georgia captured team honors in the rain-shortened event with a total of 583 (+7). Arizona, ranked sixth nationally, was the highest-placing Pac-10 team in the 16-team field. Sophomore Reid Hatley led Arizona individually with his second consecutive top-five finish. Hatley shot a final-round 74 (+2) to finish in a tie for fifth place. His 36-hole total of 144 (E) was four shots off the pace set by individual medalist Bryce Molder of Georgia Tech at 140. Joining Hatley in the top 10 for Arizona was fellow sophomore Ricky Barnes. Barnes posted a final-round 73 and finished tied for eighth place at 145. It was Barnes' first top-10 finish of the year and the seventh of his collegiate career. Other Arizona performers included freshman Chris Nallen, who tied for 34th at 150 (+6), and juniors Cody Beyer and Tim Weiss, who tied for 44th (152/+8) and 70th (157/+13), respectively.
JV Action: Bolstered by two individual top-10 finishes, the University of Arizona men's golf junior varsity finished fifth at the NMSU/Herb Wimberly Invitational last weekend. The Wildcats shot a final-round 283 (-5) and finished in fifth place with a three-round total of 872 (+8). Wyoming captured the team title with a total of 862 (-2). The Wildcat JV finished ahead of 10 varsity and two other junior varsity squads in the 17-team field. Junior Ben Clark led Arizona individually, finishing in a tie for 12th place. Clark was two under par over the final 36 holes and tallied a 216 total (E) for the three-round event. He was one of two Wildcats to finish in the top 20, as Brandon Smith finished tied for 17th place. Smith carded a two-over-par total of 218 to post the second top-20 finish of his career. Other Arizona performers included senior Rob Anderson, who tied for 28th at 220 (+4), freshman Andy Connell, who tied for 35th at 222 (+6) and juniors Tim Weiss, who finished 42nd at 224 (+8), and Brian Woolf, who finished tied for 52nd at 227 (+11). Weiss competed in the tournament as an individual.
Under Par: Reid Hatley opened the season with four consecutive rounds at par or better before carding a 74 in the final round of The Preview. The sophomore leads the team with a 71.20 stroke average. The solid play hasn't gone unnoticed, as Hatley is ranked eighth nationally in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin individual poll.
Subtle Improvement: Obviously playing fields and conditions differ, but the UA golf team has show some subtle improvements through two tournaments when compared to last season. Not only has the team's stroke average dropped 2.33 strokes (currently 291.00), but the team has posted top-five finishes in both appearances. Individually, the squad had two top-10 and one top-20 finish last year, compared with three top-10 and one top-20 finish this fall.
Among the Elite: Ricky Barnes earned his first top-10 finish of the season at The Preview by Ping & Golfweek. His one-over-par total of 145 placed him in a tie for eighth. It was the seventh of his collegiate career. Even though Barnes ranks second on the team with a 72.80 stroke average, he has yet to fire a sub-par round this season.
Looking for Good Weather: Bad weather shortened The Preview to a 36-hole event, marking the first time since Sept. 17-18, 1998, that a varsity golf event went less than 54 holes. That span of 28 events dates back to the Topy Cup in Tokyo, Japan.
Chip Ins: Arizona's fourth-place finish at The Preview by Ping & Golfweek marked the Cats' sixth 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 six events ... The Wildcat JV's final round total of 283 (-5) at the NMSU/Herb Wimberly Invitational was the low round this season by either the varsity or JV ... Rob Anderson's second-round 68 at the Wimberly was the lowest individual round this season ... The Jerry Pate National Invitational is the second of four consecutive fall events to be played in the South. Following the JPNI, Arizona has team events scheduled for Hilton Head, S.C., and Estero, Fla. Interestingly, the Cats have just one scheduled trip east of Tucson in the spring the NCAA Championships in Durham, N.C.
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.