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Men's Golf Travels to Durham, N.C., for 2001 NCAA Championships
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 05/22/2001
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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May 22, 2001

On the Tee: The Arizona men's golf team competes at the 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championships in Durham, N.C. ... The event features 30 teams and six individuals ... UA earned its 15th consecutive berth in the national championships with a runner-up finish at last week's NCAA West Regional ... All five of UA's golfers are ranked in the most recent CGF/MasterCard rankings.

The Rankings: As has been the case all season, the Wildcats remain ranked in all three major college golf polls. The Cats are ranked No. 14 in the MasterCard/CGF poll, No. 12 in the Golf World poll and No. 7 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Individually, five UA golfers are ranked nationally. Ricky Barnes, the 2000 National Freshman of the Year, is ranked 12th in the CGF/MasterCard poll and 31st in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Joining Barnes in the national rankings is sophomore Reid Hatley, No. 35 in the CGF/MasterCard rankings and No. 81 in the Golfweek/Sagarin poll, while junior Cody Beyer is No. 62 in the CGF/MasterCard rankings and No. 88 in Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, freshman Chris Nallen is ranked 68th in the CGF/MasterCard rankings and 63rd in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, while fellow freshman Chris Nallen is ranked No. 90 in the CGF/MasterCard poll.

2001 NCAA Championships: Duke University plays host to the 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championships, May 30-June 2. The event will be contested at Duke University Golf Course, a par 72, 7,045-yard facility in Durham, N.C. The 72-hole tournament features 18 holes each day beginning Wednesday. The field is cut to 15 teams after 36 holes. Tee times are TBA. In addition to Arizona, the following teams have qualified: Arizona State (West Regional champion), Augusta State, California-Irvine, Charleston, Clemson, East Tennessee State (East Regional champion), Florida, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Houston, Kent State (Central Regional co-champion), Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pacific, Purdue (Central Regional co-champion), SMU, South Carolina, Stanford, Toledo, UAB, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and Washington. The following individuals will also compete: John Klauk (Texas), Leif Olson (Duke), Kirk Satterfield (Furman), Andy Stewart (Kansas), Nick Watney (Fresno State), and Charleton Declert (Oral Roberts).

The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Ricky Barnes So. 71.06 6/1 63 13
Chris Nallen Fr. 71.85 3/1 66 12
Cody Beyer Jr. 72.27 2/4 65 12
Reid Hatley So. 72.31 3/2 68 13
Andy Connell Fr. 74.55 3/0 67 10

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 programs 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 three 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 44 tournaments and produced 55 All-Americans. He is assisted by John Knauer.

Last Time Out ... NCAA West Regional: The University of Arizona men's golf team shot a one-over-par 289 last Saturday and finished in second place at the NCAA West Regional. The Wildcats earned its 15th consecutive berth in the NCAA Championships. Arizona's final-round 289 (+1) was good enough to give the squad a three-round total of 867 (+3) for the tournament and clinch runner-up honors. Arizona State won the 27-team event by 15 strokes with an 852 total (-12). UC-Irvine (871), Pacific (872) and South Carolina (880) rounded out the top five. UA freshman Chris Nallen continued his run of strong play and finished the tournament tied for fourth place at 213 (-3). The Blairstown, N.J. native, who has been under par in seven of his last 10 rounds, has top five finishes in each of his last three tournaments. He finished five strokes behind co-winners Kyle Thompson of South Carolina and Matt Jones of Arizona State, who each finished with a three-round total of 208 (-8). Also playing well for the Wildcats was junior Cody Beyer. He equaled his best finish of the season with a tie for sixth place at 214 (-2). Beyer fired a final-round 69 en route to his second top-10 finish of the year. Teammate Reid Hatley finished tied for 34th place at 222 (+6). He tallied a 73 on Saturday. Sophomore Ricky Barnes posted a one-over-par 73 and moved up 22 spots on the leader board Saturday. His 223 total (+7) tied him for 38th place in the 141-man field. Freshman Andy Connell finished in a tie for 77th place with a 227 total (+11).

Making a Move: The performances have been pretty good for the Wildcats in NCAA Regional competition. Since 1989, Arizona has finished no lower than ninth at the NCAA Regional and advanced each year to the NCAA Championships. Arizona has won five NCAA Regionals (1989, 1991-93, 2000) and finished no lower than ninth (1999) in the last 13 years.

A Stroke-Play Win: The Arizona men's golf team continued its dominance at the U.S. Intercollegiate on April 22, posting the lowest score of the day to win the event by 15 strokes. It was the team's first stroke play tournament win since last season's NCAA West Regional. Entering the final day with a five-stroke lead, all five UA golfers came it at par or better to propel the team to a final-round 280 (-4) and 837 (-15) total. Arizona's final-round 280 was its lowest closing total of the season. Led by freshman Andy Connell's 69, three UA golfers posted sub-par rounds, while two others finished at par. The Wildcats' 837 total was 15 strokes better than runner-up Arizona State (852). With a final-round 71, freshman Chris Nallen claimed individual medalist honors. He finished with a 54-hole total of 206 (-7) to top the field of 104 by four strokes. It was the first career victory for Nallen and topped his previous low tournament score by nine strokes. Nallen finished just ahead of teammate Andy Connell and Arizona State's Jeff Quinney, who tied for second place with a 210 (-3) total. It was Arizona's second tournament victory of the year, and the team's first stroke-play win since the 2000 NCAA West Regional.

Last Season's NCAA Championships: Recording its best finish at the NCAA Championships since winning the title 1992, the University of Arizona men's golf team placed third at the 2000 NCAA Men's Golf Championships at the Grand National Lake Course (Par-72, 7,003 yards) in Opelika, Ala. Turning in another solid performance, the Wildcats were able to move up one spot after shooting a 14-under-par 274 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 to 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. Oklahoma State won on the first playoff hole, 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 in the third round, the Wildcats responded in the final round by having three of four countable scores at 70 or better. The UA's 274 total was the second-best round of the day, trailing only Houston's 272. 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 final-round 69 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 to move him up from up from a tie for 24th to start the day. 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, following rounds of 70-74-68. Senior Scott Moore closed 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 to follow up a career-best 66 in the third round. 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 after shooting a 68 in the third round.

LaRose Named U.S. Head Coach: The Golf Coaches Association of America has selected University of Arizona Director of Golf Rick LaRose as the head coach for the United States team in the 2001 U.S.-Japan Collegiate Matches. The competition, which is scheduled to take place July 2-5, 2001, at Verde Sano Golf Club, located in Sano shi, Tochigi, Japan. The annual matches consist of a Walker Cup format between collegiate teams from Japan and the United States. The United States' eight-man, four-woman team for the event will be announced later this spring. Nine of LaRose's UA players have competed in this event since 1990.

Match Play National Champions: The University of Arizona's men's golf team defeated fifth-seeded Georgia Tech by a score of 3-2 Nov. 12 to claim the team title at the 2000 CGF National Intercollegiate Match Play Team Championships. The Wildcats, seeded No. 3 in the tournament, defeated UNLV, 4-1, in the semifinals Nov. 11 and Northwestern, 3-2, in the first round to advance to the title match. Sophomore Reid Hatley, junior Cody Beyer and freshman Chris Nallen all won their matches against the Yellow Jackets. Hatley scored a 1-up victory over Wes Latimer. Beyer came away with a 2 and 1 win over Troy Matteson, while Nallen defeated Kris Mikkelson with a final of 3 and 1. Sophomore Ricky Barnes dropped a close match to Bryce Molder, losing 1-up. The tournament championship was Arizona's second CGF Match Play title. The Wildcats won the inaugural Match Play Championships in 1996.

P.O.W.: University of Arizona sophomore Ricky Barnes was named College Player of the Week May 2 by Golf World magazine. Barnes earned the honor after winning the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championship by three strokes on April 29. The Stockton, Calif., native shot a 72-hole total of 268 (-16) to claim individual medalist honors. It was his fourth career victory and his second this season. Barnes' 70.76 stroke average (through 12 events) is the best in the Pac-10 this year. He has four top-10 finishes in six events this spring. Arizona is just one of four schools in the country to have both a men's and women's national Player of the Week this season. UA's Lorena Ochoa (Sept. 29) and Natalie Gulbis (Feb. 26) were honored earlier this year by Golf World.

Pac-10 Honors: Sophomore Ricky Barnes was named Pacific-10 Conference Golfer of the Year April 30 in voting released by the league's head coaches. Barnes was named Co-Golfer of the Year after winning the 2001 Pac-10 Championship by three strokes. The Stockton, Calif., native shot a 72-hole total of 268 (-16) to claim individual medalist honors. It was his fourth career victory and his second this season. Barnes was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year last season and shared 2001 Golfer-of-the-Year honors with Arizona State's Jeff Quinney. Barnes' efforts also earned him a slot on the all-Pac-10 first team. Three other UA golfers were honored with all-conference accolades. Junior Cody Beyer and freshman Chris Nallen were second team picks, while sophomore Reid Hatley was an honorable mention selection.

Among the Leaders: Arizona has 11 top-10 finishes in 12 stroke play events this season. The Cats have posted top-10 efforts in all seven spring tournaments to date, including top-three efforts in its last three outings.

Top Freshman in the West: Chris Nallen has enjoyed a strong run to close the season. In his last three events, he has three top-five finishes (1st at U.S. Intercollegiate/T5th at Pac-10 Championships/T4th at NCAA West Regional) to his credit and his three-under-par 213 at the NCAA West Regional made him the top-finishing freshman. He has finished under par in seven of his last 10 rounds and is averaging 69.3 strokes per round in that span.

Back in the Top 10: Junior Cody Beyer tallied a 73-72-69=214 (-2) to finish tied for sixth at the NCAA West Regional. For Beyer, who has been playing since December with a torn left ACL, it was his best finish this spring and fifth-lowest tournament of the year. His final-round 69 was his fifth round in the 60s this season.

Team Leader: With a strong spring, Ricky Barnes now leads the team lead with 21 rounds at par or better this season. Sixteen of Barnes' 22 rounds this spring have been at par or better, including 10 of his last 13. How good has he been this spring? In the three events prior to the NCAA West Regional (10 rounds), Barnes carded seven rounds in the 60s.

Tuning Up: Following Barnes' lead, the Wildcats are steadily improving play with each tournament this spring. In seven spring events, Barnes is averaging 70.55 strokes per round, 1.31 strokes lower than his average in the fall. As a whole, the team has also picked up play, lowering its scoring average to 284.64 by 4.37 stokes in the spring (making an adjustment for the Pac-10 Championship, where five scores were counted in each round). This spring, 13 of UA's 22 team rounds have been below par, including seven of the last 11.

The Winner: Freshman Chris Nallen earned individual medalist honors at the U.S. Intercollegiate on April 22, posting a career-low tournament total of 206 (-7). Nallen is one of two Wildcats to win individual titles this season, joining Ricky Barnes, who captured the Savane College All-America Golf Classic in November and the Pac-10 individual title on April 29. Nallen's 206 total was the third-lowest tournament total this season for a UA golfer this season, ranking behind Barnes' 196 at the Savane All-America and Cody Beyer's 204 at the Golf World/Palmetto Dunes Invitational. Nallen's victory means that UA has had a freshman win medalist honors in each of the last two seasons (Barnes).

Making an Adjustment: Whatever is said in the clubhouse after the first 18 holes must work because the Wildcats' stroke average in the second round of spring tournaments is 3.14 shots lower than its first round average. UA has opened seven spring events with a stroke average of 286.57. That mark falls to 283.43 in the second round and rises slightly to 284.43 in the third round of play.

At the Top: Sophomore Reid Hatley remains one of the UA leaders in several statistical categories. Joining Barnes as the only player to see action in 13 events this year, Hatley ranks fourth in stroke average (72.31), second in top-10 finishes (3), and is third in rounds at par or better (19). He is ranked No. 35 individually in the most recent CGF/MasterCard rankings. Hatley earned All-America honors with a tie for 15th place at last year's NCAA Championships.

One Cool Freshman: Chris Nallen has quietly become one of the top freshmen in the country. Nallen has played in all 12 varsity events this season and ranks second on the squad with a 71.85 stroke average. He has one victory and three top-20 finishes to his credit and his 20 rounds at par or better rank second on the squad. He was the only UA player at the CGF Match Play National Championships to win all three of his singles matches. He is ranked No. 63 nationally in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

Looking for a Fifth: While the majority of the UA lineup has remained the same, the Cats are still looking for a reliable player to fill in at the No. 5 position. Since the fall, the Nos. 1-4 positions have been manned by Ricky Barnes, Cody Beyer, Reid Hatley and Chris Nallen. Each of those players have played solid golf, posting a cumulative 71.86 stroke average with 14 top-10 finishes. Finding a consistent No. 5 has been the key to success this season, as Andy Connell, Brandon Smith, Ben Clark, and Tim Weiss have each attempted to occupy the role. That quartet has a cumulative 74.74 stroke average.

Finishing High: Since finishing eighth at its own PING-Arizona Intercollegiate, Arizona has picked up its play and steadily improved its finish. In the last six spring events, the team's average finish is 3.5 with a stroke average of 283.63.

Record-Setting Effort: Ricky Barnes, earned his first tournament victory of the year at the Savane College All-America Golf Classic on Nov. 21 by posting a record-setting total of 196 (-17) to win the event by six strokes. He broke the previous tournament scoring record by five shots. Barnes carded three consecutive rounds in the 60s (63-67-66) to clinch his third career win. The 196 total was also a school scoring record.

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.

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