Feb. 28, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona men's golf team will participate in the Braveheart Classic, Monday and Tuesday, March 1 and 2, with shotgun starts at 8:45 and 9:00 a.m. MST, respectively.. The Braveheart Classic is a 54 hole event, and is contested at the Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont, Calif., a par 72, 7,003 yard course.
The Field: In addition to Arizona, the field includes: Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Gonzaga, La Verne, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Minnesota, Portland, Sacramento State, Santa Clara, Southern Utah, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara.
2009 Braveheart Classic: Then-senior Tyler Neal led Arizona to a third place finish in last year's event behind his runner-up 217 (+1) performance. Oregon won the event, but does return this year. Last year's second place team, Southern Utah, however, is in the field once again.
Fall Struggles: Statistically speaking, Arizona has gotten off to slow starts in each of the past three seasons. The team's fall stroke average from a year ago was nearly 16 strokes higher than its spring numbers. The Wildcats also had a higher fall stroke average during the 2007-08 and 2006-07 seasons. Arizona averaged an eighth place finish in four fall events last year, compared to an average finish of just over fourth place during the spring portion of the schedule (nine events). Arizona finished the 2009 fall slate averaging a ninth place finish. However, as the past foretold, things are beginning to change for the better in the spring. Through two events, the team is a combined 38 under par. In four events in the fall, the Cats were 46 over par. I'll do the math for you: that's an 84 stroke turnaround thus far.
Sub 72: Currently, Arizona has two golfers with stroke averages less than 72. No Arizona golfer has finished the season with a sub-72 stroke average since Brian Prouty and Nathan Tyler did it in the 2006-07 season. MacManus has a stroke average of 71.38 and Saferian's average is 71.72. In addition, Nicholson and Khan are sitting dangerously close to that figure, with averages of 72.00 and 72.22, respectively. Arizona has never had more than two golfers finish with stroke averages under 72.
Top Eight in the Top-20: Each one of Arizona's eight top golfers (according to stroke average) has recorded a top-20 finish this season except for one: Brad Nicholson. In fact, the senior, who has been a steady member of the Cats' lineup for most of his two years on the team, has never recorded a top-20 finish. Nicholson is one of only six players on the roster who have competed in an event, but not finished in the top-20. The other five, Trent Redfern, Alvin Cheung, Brian Walker, Miles Thorson and Jimmy Kozikowski, have a combined 13 events played between them. Nicholson has played in 14. His closest brush with the top-20 was in the 2009 Braveheart Classic, where he tied for 22nd, so Nicholson sits in perhaps his best opportunity to grab a top-20 finish.
The Big 3: Juniors Tarquin MacManus and Jonathan Khan, and senior Rich Saferian are the clear leaders for the Cats. The three have combined for 29 rounds played at or under par; to put that in perspective, the other 15 players on the roster have combined for an identical 29 rounds at or under par. MacManus, Khan and Saferian have combined for eight top-20 finishes while the other 15 players have a total of four. Either MacManus, Khan or Saferian has finished in the top two on Arizona's scorecard in 17 of the last 18 tournaments, a figure that dates back to MacManus and Khan's freshman season. In six of Arizona's last nine events, two of the three golfers have occupied both spots atop the team's scorecard.