May 30, 2001
DURHAM, N.C. - Bolstered by three golfers in the top eight places, the University of Arizona men's golf team posted an eight-under 280 to take nine-stroke lead after the first round of play Wednesday at the 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championships.
Arizona's opening-round 280 (-8) was good enough to give the squad a nine-shot lead after the first 18 holes. Three of the five UA golfers came in under par to push the team to the top of the 30-team field. Arizona was the only team in the field to post a sub-par total. Georgia Tech stands in second place at 289 (+1), while Augusta State and Toledo are tied for third place at 292 (+4). East Tennessee State rounds out the top five at 293 (+5).
Freshman Chris Nallen led the way for the Wildcats, equaling a season best with a 66 (-6) to tie for the first-round lead. The Blairstown, N.J. native, who has been under par in eight of his last 11 rounds, is tied with Kris Mikkelsen of Georgia Tech two strokes ahead of the 154-man field.
Standing alone in third place is UA sophomore Ricky Barnes. Barnes, who rebounded from a 38th-place finish at the NCAA West Regional, posted a first-round 68 (-4) and is joined in the top 10 by teammate Cody Beyer. The junior from Tucson carded a one-under 71 and is tied for eighth place. No other school in the tournament has multiple players in the top-10 places.
Also playing well for the Cats is sophomore Reid Hatley, who shot an opening-round 75 (+3) and is tied for 76th place. Hatley earned All-America honors at last year's NCAA Championships with a 15th-place finish. Freshman Andy Connell tallied an 81 (+9) Wednesday and is tied for 150th place.
The 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championships are being contested at the Duke University Golf Course, a par 72, 7,045-yard facility. The event runs through Saturday.