Opelika, Ala. Recording its best finish at the NCAA Championships since winning the title 1992, the University of Arizona men's golf team placed third at this year's NCAA Men's Golf Championships, which wrapped up today at the Grand National Lake Course (Par-72, 7,003 yards). Turning in another solid performance, the Wildcats were able to move up one spot after shooting a 14-under-par 274 today in final round action. That gave Arizona a 72-hole total of 34-under 1118, which was just two strokes behind Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State, two teams that had to go into a one-hole playoff the determine the team champion.
Oklahoma State won the team title in the playoff after they and Georgia Tech were tied with an NCAA Championships record 36-under 1116 following 72 holes of regulation play. In fact, the Arizona's 34-under total tied the previous NCAA record total, which was set by UNLV in 1998. On the first playoff hole, the Cowboys were 1-under, while the Yellow Jackets went 1-over, thus giving the Cowboys their ninth NCAA men's golf title in school history.
Following their NCAA Championship record and school record round of 19-under-par 269 yesterday, the Wildcats responded in today's final round by having three of the four golfers whose scores counted towards the team total shoot a 70 or better. The UA's 274 total was the second-best round of the day, trailing only Houston's 272. The Cougars used their 16-under total to finish fourth at 1122.
Arizona's top individual was freshman Ricky Barnes, who tied for third and recorded the best score in school history at the NCAA Championship with a 13-under-par 275. His third place performance was the best for a Wildcat at the NCAAs since Rory Sabbatini finished second to Tiger Woods in 1996 and Barnes also becomes the second UA golfer to place third at the NCAA Championships, joining Manny Zerman, who did it in both 1992 and 1990. Barnes shot a 69 today to give him rounds of 70-68-68-69 at his first NCAA Championship.
Next in line for the Wildcats was senior Derek Gillespie, who finished 12th with at 8-under-par 280. That total was the third best in school history at the NCAA Championships. Highlighted by a hole-in-one on the 208-yard par-3 eighth hole, using an eight-iron, Gillespie shot his second consecutive 67 today and that moved him up from up from a tie for 24th that he started the day. This year's 12th place performance follows last season's tie for sixth and he concluded his Arizona career with rounds of 72-74-67-67 at this year NCAAs.
Freshman Reid Hatley was Arizona's third golfer to place among the top-15, finishing in a tie for 15th at 6-under 282. He carded a 2-under 70 today, following rounds of 70-74-68. Senior Scott Moore closed out his Arizona career in style by turning in his top performance at the NCAAs, tying for 24th at 4-under 284. He shot a 68 today to follow up yesterday's career-best 66. The final member of the third place Arizona lineup was sophomore Cody Beyer, who tied for 50th at 2-over 290. He had a even-par 72 today after shooting a 68 yesterday.
The NCAA individual title was captured by Oklahoma State's Charles Howell, who had a NCAA record 23-under-par 265 total. He won by eight strokes over Houston's Chris Morris, who had a 15-under 273. Following him was the threesome of the UA's Ricky Barnes, Northwestern's Jess Daley and Texas' David Gossett, who tied for third at 13-under 275.
Arizona's Lineup Top-Five Teams T3 Ricky Barnes 70 68 68 69 275 (-13) T 1 Oklahoma State * 281 276 275 284 1116 -36 12 Derek Gillespie 72 74 67 67 280 (-8) T 1 Georgia Tech 280 282 278 276 1116 -36 T15 Reid Hatley 70 74 68 70 282 (-6) 3 Arizona 286 289 269 274 1118 -34 T24 Scott Moore 77 73 66 68 284 (-4) 4 Houston 284 289 277 272 1122 -30 T50 Cody Beyer 74 76 68 72 290 (+2) 5 Texas 272 286 277 290 1125 -27 * Won in a one-hole playoffArizona head coach Rick Larose on his team's comeback:
"It was a lot of fun the last two days. We have always had five guys that can put it all together. The first couple of rounds we played all right. The last two rounds we really turned it on. I am really proud of our team. They showed a lot of heart. We also have good chemistry. Our guys are concerned about their teammates as much as themselves."
Arizona's Derek Gillespie on his hole-in-one:
"I used a four iron on eight and just choked up, then I heard it hit the pin. I couldn't see it at first and didn't notice any reaction from the crowd until I was able to see that the ball went in. It was my first ever hole in one."