May 20, 2009
On the Tee: Arizona opens play at the 2009 NCAA Men's Golf Championships, May 26-30, in Toledo, Ohio, and appears in the event for the 26th time in school history, including 22 times in the last 23 seasons ... In 25 previous appearances, the Wildcats have one national championship (1992) and six top-five finishes.
The Rankings: The Wildcats head into the regional ranked 34th in the current (May 17) Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and were receiving votes in the most recent (May 13) Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll. Individually, sophomore Tarquin MacManus is the top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 43 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, which places him in the nation's top five percent of the more than 1,500 golfers ranked. Rich Saferian is next up at No. 192.
The Probable Arizona Lineup: Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Rounds Tarquin MacManus So. 72.11 5/2 63 37 Tyler Neal Sr. 74.08 5/1 67 37 Rich Saferian So. 73.08 1/2 66 25 Jonathan Khan So. 73.70 1/1 68 37 Philip Bagdade Fr. 74.05 3/2 67 39
A Look at the 2009 NCAA Championships: The University of Toledo hosts 54 holes of stroke play and three rounds of match play over five days as part of the 112th NCAA Championships at the Inverness Club, a par-71, 7,255-yard layout. Arizona is seeded 21st and has tee times on hole No. 10 from 7:20-7:58 a.m. EDT on the first day of the event. All told, 30 teams and six individuals fill out the 156-man field. Here is the field listed by seed: Oklahoma State (1), Alabama (2), Florida (3), Arizona State (4), UCLA (5), Georgia (6), Washington (7), Arkansas (8), Tennessee (9), Georgia Tech (10), Texas A&M (11), Illinois (12), Stanford (13) South Carolina (14), USC (15), UCF (16), Texas Tech (17), Oregon (18), Texas (19), Chattanooga (20), Arizona (21), Virginia (22), Ohio State (23), Northwestern (24), San Diego (25), TCU (26), Wake Forest (27), Duke (28), Michigan (29), and Iowa (30). Individuals include Kyle Stanley, Clemson (1); Matt Hill, N.C. State (2); Hughes Joannes, Lamar (3); Corey Nagy, Charlotte (4); Brady Johnson, Brigham Young (5); and Cody Paladino, Baylor (6). Live scoring of the event will be available at www.golfstat.com.
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 31st season at the helm of the Arizona golf program, and in that span has established the Wildcats as one of the nation's elite programs. The only college coach to win both a men's (1992) and women's (1996) NCAA Championship, LaRose's teams have won a combined eight NCAA Regionals, five Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles. In NCAA Championship play, he also has six third-place finishes, a fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit. Since 1978, his men's teams have won 59 tournaments and produced 47 All-Americans. LaRose, who has coached two U.S. Amateur champions, was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame on Jan. 22, 2003. He is assisted by Andy Barnes.
Last Time Out: Led by the stellar play of Tarquin MacManus, the University of Arizona men's golf team finished in second place at the NCAA Southeast Regional, May 14-16, in Sorrento, Fla. MacManus, a sophomore from Cairns, Queensland, Australia, held off two challengers from host UCF to claim individual medalist honors and led the Wildcats to a three-round total of 829 (-23) and a tie for second place. Arizona posted a two-under 282 tally in the final round to share runner-up honors with top-ranked and top-seeded Georgia and third-seeded South Carolina, 11 strokes behind tournament-winner UCF. Arizona's 23-under 829 total equaled the 15th-lowest tournament tally in school history. The effort qualified Arizona for the NCAA Championships for the 26th time in school history and the 22nd time in the last 23 seasons. The only break in the streak since 1987 came last season, and this year's squad rebounded furiously at the regional by posting its low aggregate total of the season and the second lowest tally in relation to par. The Cats bested two higher-seeded teams in earning one of five qualifying slots for the 2009 NCAA Championships. MacManus earned his first collegiate victory with a final-round 69 (-2) en route to a three-round total of 198 (-15) and two-stroke win. His effort was just enough to hold off UCF's Brad Schneider and Blayne Barber, who posted a final round 63 and 62, respectively, to trim three shots off MacManus' second-round lead. MacManus' tournament total is the fourth lowest in school history. He also becomes the sixth Wildcat to earn individual medalist honors at the NCAA regional, joining Robert Gamez, 1989 (206/-10); Harry Rudolph, 1992 (201/-15), Manny Zerman, 1993 (211/-5); Ricky Barnes, 2002 (210/-6) and Chris Nallen, 2004 (211/-5). Over his last 10 rounds played, MacManus has a 69.60 stroke average to go with his win and two other top-10 finishes. Eight of those 10 rounds have been at par or better, including five rounds in the 60s. Arizona also received solid play from senior Tyler Neal and freshman Philip Bagdade, who each collected top-20 finishes. Neal equaled the low tournament of his career with a seven-under 206 tally and a tie for seventh place. It was his fifth top-10 finish of the season. Bagdade tied for 19th place with a four-under 209, highlighted by a first-round 67. It was Bagdade's fifth top-20 placement this season. Sophomores Jonathan Khan and Rich Saferian both tied for 49th place at four-over 217.
NCAA Championship History: By securing a berth in the 2009 NCAA Men's Golf Championships, Arizona earned the 26th appearance in the event and its 22nd in the last 23 seasons. The Wildcats made its first NCAA Championship appearance in 1941 and since then have collected one national championship (1992) and 11 additional top-10 finishes. Of those top-10 efforts, four have been third-place finishes.
On the Rebound: After failing to qualify for the NCAA postseason for the first time since 1987 last season, head coach Rick LaRose has his charges back in the NCAA Championships, which (as mentioned above) is the 26th appearance in school history. A year after finishing 83-85-2, LaRose guided a regular lineup that featured three sophomores and a freshman to a cumulative 103-59-3 record and a No. 21 seed.
No Easy Task: Winning a national championship is no easy feat, but advancing to the Championships itself might be the most challenging aspect of the postseason. Arizona (No. 34) is one of 11 teams currently ranked outside of the top 25 of the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index to advance to the 2009 NCAA Championships, which means that six top-25 teams failed to advance this far. Traditionally, Arizona has a stellar track record in NCAA regional action. Since the regional format was introduced in 1989, Rick LaRose has successfully advanced his team to the NCAA Championships every year (20 total) that the Wildcats have been invited to participate.
Among the Elite: According to NCAA championship records, Arizona is one of only six programs in NCAA history to register 20 or more consecutive appearances in the Division I Men's Golf Championships since 1939. The Cats join Oklahoma State, Houston, Clemson, Stanford and North Texas as the only programs to accomplish the feat. Of the six schools listed, Only Oklahoma State's streak is active.
The Conference of Champions: Of the 30 teams that make up the field of this year's championship, no conference is better represented than the Pacific-10. No fewer than seven teams from the "Conference of Champions" advanced to Toledo for this week's event - Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington - and that's nearly one quarter (23.3 percent) of the field and one more than any other league. Here is the breakdown of the top five producers by conference: 1.) Pac-10, 7; 2.) Southeastern, 6; 3.) Big Ten, 5; 4.) Atlantic Coast and Big 12, 4 each.
Similar Features: Arizona's last three regional appearances have produced very similar results...and a lot of red numbers. In that span (2006, `07, `09), UA is a combined 96 strokes under par in regional action. The Wildcats posted a 23-under 829 tally at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Sorrento, Fla., May 14-16, to tie for second place. Arizona carded a 36-under 828 total at the 2007 West Regional in Tempe, Ariz. - the third-lowest tournament total in school history en route to a sixth-pace finish. In 2006, the Cats fired a 37-under 827 total, which equaled the lowest tournament total in school history, to tie for the West Regional crown with Florida in Tucson, Ariz.
Birdie Fest: The Southeast Regional at Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla., turned into a race for birdies as UCF, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina each finished eight strokes ahead of the rest of the field. Over the course of 54 holes, Arizona ranked second in the event with 66 birdies or better, just behind host UCF's 74 and ahead of Georgia's 63 and South Carolina's 61. On the other hand, Arizona also tied for second when it came to fewest bogeys or others, as its 39 equaled South Carolina and trailed Georgia's 38. UCF managed 40 bogeys or others during the regional.
Everyone Benefits: There is nothing like three rounds of under-par golf to make a team feel good, and the Wildcats have to be feeling great after posting a 23-under 829 total at the NCAA regional. In carding its second-lowest tournament total this season, Arizona registered nine individual rounds at par or better, including six in the 60s, and saw the team's countable stroke average fall 0.32 strokes following the effort. That's a pretty interesting feat 11,305 counted strokes into the season. Individually, all five players saw their scoring averages drop by at least one-tenth of a stroke, while Tarquin MacManus (0.54), Tyler Neal (0.48) and Philip Bagdade (0.37) all had significant improvements.
A Nice Time To Break Through: Sophomore Tarquin MacManus picked a nice time to collect his first collegiate victory - at the NCAA regional - where his 63-66-69=198 (-15) topped the field by two strokes. He had been close a few times previously this season with a runner-up finish at the Braveheart Classic in March and three other top-10 placings during the season, and was bolstered by that career-low 63 (-8) in the opening round. He becomes the sixth Arizona player to win a regional (see list below) and his aggregate total is the lowest for any Wildcat in regional play and equaled the lowest in relation to par.
Individual and Team Success: Few teams are as accomplished as Arizona when it comes to NCAA regional play, as the Wildcats have won the event six times as a team - 1989, `91, `92, `93, 2000, `06 - a figure that ranks second behind Clemson's and Oklahoma State's seven apiece. Based on Tarquin MacManus' efforts at the Southeast Regional, UA now has been just as successful in terms of individual medalists, as six Cats have won the regional: Robert Gamez, 1989 (206/-10); Harry Rudolph, 1992 (201/-15), Manny Zerman, 1993 (211/-5); Ricky Barnes, 2002 (210/-6), Chris Nallen, 2004 (211/-5) and Tarquin MacManus, 2009 (198/-15).
All-Conference: A pair of University of Arizona men's golfers received all-Pac-10 honors in voting done by the conference's head coaches, the league announced May 1. Tarquin MacManus was a second-team pick, while Rich Saferian was tabbed honorable mention. For MacManus, it was the second consecutive season that he was a second-team selection. For Saferian, it was the first time he was recognized by the league. Their selections mark the 95th time that Wildcat golfers have earned all-Pac-10 honors since joining the conference in 1978-79.
Growing Up as We Go Along: Arizona's NCAA Championship lineup features one senior, three sophomores and a freshman and zero rounds of experience in NCAA Championship action. Of the 13 players on the Arizona roster, the low four stroke averages come from three sophomores and a freshman. Through 12 team events, underclassmen have been UA's top finisher nine times. They have performed well, as the four underclassmen (MacManus, Saferian, Khan, Bagdade) have combined for a 73.26 stroke average, collected 10 top-10 finishes and posted 48 rounds at par or better.
Posting Red Numbers: Four times in 2008-09 Arizona finished a tournament under par: 12-under 852 at the Wolf Pack Classic in October, 24-under 840 at the John Burns Intercollegiate in February, seven-under 857 at the National Invitational Tournament in March, and 23-under 829 at the NCAA Southeast Regional in May. All told, the Cats registered 13 under-par rounds as a team in 12 events with the lowest single round, 270 (-14), occurring May 14 at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Falling Numbers: The spring season was one of improvement for the Cats, as the squad posted four top-five finishes and saw its scoring average drop considerably. UA's countable stroke average fell by 2.23 strokes per round this spring when compared to the team's performance in the fall (74.43 fall/72.20 spring). Such an improvement certainly can have an impact on the team total, as the team's countable spring stroke average translates to an average of 288.80 strokes per round, a figure that is nearly nine fewer strokes per round than its performance in the fall.
Good on Moving Day: Statistically speaking, the Wildcats are at their collective bests on college golf's "Moving Day," i.e. the second round, as the team's second-round scoring average of 287.97 is easily the lowest of the three rounds, just ahead of its 288.52 average in the first round. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Cats don't close as well, as witnessed by its 290.79 scoring average. In fact, Arizona has only had five final rounds at par or better through 12 tournaments this season.
Count Me In: Of the five players scheduled to participate in the NCAA Championships, three of them (Tarquin MacManus, Tyler Neal, Jonathan Khan) have played in all 37 varsity rounds, while another (Rich Saferian) has played in all 25 spring rounds since gaining his eligibility. Here is who the Wildcats lean on when it comes to rounds counting towards the team total: MacManus 35 of 37 (.946), Saferian 21 of 25 (.840), Khan 28 of 37 (.757) and Neal 26 of 37 (.703). UA's fifth player, Philip Bagdade has seen all 10 of his rounds count when he competes with the Arizona varsity.
Pulling the Cart: The only Wildcat with NCAA postseason experience prior to this year's regional, sophomore Tarquin MacManus leads the team with a 72.11 stroke average, a figure that drops to 69.60 in his last three events (10 rounds). The Cairns, Queensland, Australia, native has been UA's top finisher in seven of his 12 appearances, including a win and four additional top-10 and two top-20 finishes to date. His low round of 63 to open the Southeast Regional is the lowest for any UA player this year and is tied for the fourth-lowest round in school history. UA head coach Rick LaRose always says that successful teams need a big horse in the No. 1 position to pull the cart, and with six consecutive under-par rounds to his credit and a victory under his belt, perhaps MacManus has accepted the yoke of responsibility.
Coming On Strong: Wixom, Mich., product Rich Saferian has provided a nice boost this spring, collecting three top-20 finishes in eight starts to go with a 73.08 stroke average, which ranks second on the club. His best effort was a tie for third at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational with a two-under 211 total that included a final-round 66. Saferian was the 2007 national junior college champion at Scottsdale Community College. He tied for 49th place at the regional with a four-over 217 tally.
Mr. Consistency: Jonathan Khan has been nothing if not steady this year. The sophomore from Tucson, Ariz., has played in every event, ranks second on the team with 15 rounds at par or better and ranks third with a 73.70 stroke average. It's probably not coincidental that Khan's four lowest tournament totals came in Arizona's four best team finishes. He tied for 49th place at the regional with a 217 (+4) total.
Everything is Better: Senior Tyler Neal continues to be a solid contributor for the Cats. He's already set career bests for appearances and rounds played in a single season, and his 74.08 stroke average is the lowest of his career. The Tucson, Ariz., native shares the team lead with five top-10 finishes and his seven-under tallies at October's Wolf Pack Classic and the Southeast Regional are UA's third-best tournament totals this year. Neal also ranks third with 14 rounds at par or better. His tie for seventh (206/-7) at the regional was his best placing in five outings.
Pleasant Surprise: It's safe to say that the play of Philip Bagdade has been the biggest surprise of the season. The Eugene, Ore., native leads the team in appearances (13) and rounds played (39) and posts a respectable 74.05 stroke average. Bagdade ranks third on the team with three top-10 finishes and his tie for 19th place at the Southeast Regional (209/-4) included a first-round 67. Should Bagdade's stroke average hold firm through this event, he would finish with a better freshman scoring average than such Arizona notables and PGA Tour veterans as Ted Purdy (74.13/1993), Jason Gore (74.14/1993), Jim Furyk (74.39/1989) and Rory Sabbatini (74.50/1995).