Sept. 6, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona men's golf team will open the 2002-03 season with a top-five national ranking, as GolfWorld magazine has ranked the team fourth in its annual preseason rankings. The publication also selected Ricky Barnes and Chris Nallen as two of its "50 Players to Watch."
The Wildcats received 322 points, including one first place vote, to tie for fourth place with Georgia Tech in the preseason poll behind Clemson (389), Minnesota (334) and Florida (327). It marks the 15th time in the last 17 years that Wildcat golf has achieved a top-five ranking at some point of the season. Last season, Arizona opened the year ranked No. 2 before finishing tied for ninth at the 2002 NCAA Championships.
Barnes, a senior from Stockton, Calif., enters the season as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and is ranked No. 4 individually in the GolfWorld rankings. In 14 events last season, Barnes averaged 72.13 strokes per round and posted four top-10 finishes. Included in the effort was a tie for first place at the NCAA West Regional with a six-under 210 total. It was his fifth career victory. His 71.43 career stroke average is the lowest in school history and he has claimed All-America accolades in each of his first three seasons. Barnes was GolfWorld's preseason Player of the Year last season.
Nallen, a junior from Blairstown, N.J., posted a team-leading 71.47 stroke average and five top-10 finishes last season. Twenty-three of his 44 rounds in 2001-02 were at par or better and included 10 rounds in the 60s. An All-America as both a freshman and sophomore, Nallen's 71.63 career stroke average trails only Barnes in UA annals. He was also included in GolfWorld's top 50 players last season.
The Wildcats open the 2002-03 campaign Sept. 13-14 at the William H. Tucker Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.
2002-03 Preseason Top 25 Men's Coaches Poll
Rnk School (1st place votes) Points 1. Clemson (9) 389 2. Minnesota (3) 334 3. Florida (2) 327 4. ARIZONA (1) 322 Georgia Tech 322 6. Wake Forest (1) 296 Texas 296 8. Oklahoma State 294 9. Washington 250 10. North Carolina State 223 11. North Carolina 197 12. USC 185 13. Auburn 158 14. Tennessee 148 15. Georgia 147 16. UNLV 143 17. Fresno State 117 18. Illinois 110 19. Virginia Tech 109 20. TCU 108 21. Oklahoma 102 22. Tulsa 94 23. UCLA 65 24. Toledo 64 25. Pepperdine 58