The Field: Arizona is the highest ranked team in the 15-team field, according to the March 1 edition of the MasterCard Rankings. Other ranked teams include, No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 23 Colorado, No. 24 Kansas, No. 41 North Texas and No. 45 Texas A&M. The rest of the field includes, Baylor, Rice, SMU, Tulsa, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Sam Houston State and the host Louisiana-Lafayette.
Arizona's Top Golfers: The Wildcats' top five golfers on the season and their probable lineup for the tournament:
Yr. '99-00 Avg. Top-10/Top-25 Fin. (Tourn's) Ricky Barnes Fr. 71.52 2/1 (7) Derek Gillespie Sr. 71.67 3/1 (7) Cody Beyer So. 73.28 0/3 (6) Scott Moore Sr. 72.53 0/1 (5) Patrick Norris Fr. 74.40 1/0 (5)The UA's Last Action: Arizona tied fourth-ranked Oklahoma State for second place at the John Burns Intercollegiate in Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb. 23-25 with a team score of 839. BYU won the title with a score of 830, while UNLV was fourth at 842. Individually, senior Derek Gillespie entered the final round in 31st place, but fired a 66 on the final day to finish tied for seventh at 7-under 209. Sophomore Brandon Smith had been the Cats' top golfer throughout the tournament, but slipped into a tie for 13th after shooting a 73 in the final round to finish at 5-under 211. UNLV's Jeremy Anderson won the individual title with a 66 in each round to finish at 18-under-par 198. The rest of the UA lineup included sophomore Cody Beyer (4-under-par 212/T16th), senior Scott Moore (2-under 214/T26th), and freshman Ricky Barnes (1-under 215/T31st). It was Arizona's sixth top-10 finish in seven tournaments on the season and their second consecutive second-place outing.
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 head to Austin, Texas for the Morris Williams Intercollegiate, March 20-21. 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 this season, including a pair of top-five outings (Tied for 4th at Nelson and Tied for 5th at Savane)... He owns the team's second-lowest scoring average at 71.67 and has been Arizona's top finisher in four out of seven tournaments on the season... He tied for seventh at the John Burns Intercollegiate after firing his lowest round of the season (66) on the final day to jump from 31st place.
Barnes the Noble: Freshman Ricky Barnes (Stockton, Calif.) 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... He has lived up to expectations with two top-10 finishes and one top-20 outing in seven tournaments... Barnes, the brother of former UA golfer Andy Barnes, won the Ping/Arizona Intercollegiate in February with a 9-under-par 204 (65-68-71) and currently boasts the team's top average at 71.52... He became the first UA golfer to win a tournament since Rory Sabbatini won the 1997 Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate... Barnes was featured in Sports Illustrated's Golf Plus issue in the Faces in the Crowd section in February... He has been Arizona's top golfer in two tournaments this season, with his lowest finish coming at the Ridges Intercollegiate where he finished tied for 38th.
Fresh Faces: In addition to Barnes, Head Coach Rick LaRose has gathered one of the best recruiting classes in the nation in Patrick Norris (Orlando, Fla.), 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... 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. 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, captured his fifth career title with a victory at the Doral-Ryder Open. 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.