Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats head to Norman, Okla.
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 14, 2012
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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May 14, 2012

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On the Tee: The Arizona men's golf team heads to the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Norman Regional , May 17-19, at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla. ... UA appears in an NCAA Regional for the 23rd time in the last 24 seasons since the format was adopted in 1989 ... The Wildcats have a win and one other top-five finish in nine spring events this season.

The Rankings: The Wildcats are ranked 60th in the current (May 7) Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and were receiving votes in the most recent (week of April 30) Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll. Individually, junior Juan Pablo Hernandez was the top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 150 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Sophomore Erik Oja was next at No. 185.

The Probable Arizona Lineup:

Golfer          	Yr.	Avg.	Top 10/20	Low Rd.	Rounds
Juan Pablo Hernandez	Jr.	72.35	   4/3  	  66	  40
Erik Oja        	So.	72.55	   4/3  	  66	  40
Tucker Wadkins  	Fr.	74.24	   1/1  	  67	  37
Trent Redfern   	Jr.	74.62	   1/1  	  67	  34
Philip Bagdade  	Sr.	75.04	   0/1  	  68	  25

A Look at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Norman Regional: The University of Oklahoma hosts 54 holes of stroke play over three days at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, a par-72, 7,387-yard layout in Norman. Arizona is seeded 11th and has tee times on hole No. 10 from 9:10-9:50 a.m. CDT on the first day of the event. All told, 14 teams and five individuals fill the 75-man field. The 14 teams in the field include (seed): Texas (1); Georgia Tech (2); Washington (3); Florida State (4); host Oklahoma (5); Saint Mary's (6); Illinois (7); Middle Tennessee state (8); South Carolina (9); San Diego (10); Arizona (11); Sacramento State (12); IUPUI (13); and Loyola, Chicago (14). Individuals include Martin Simonsen, UTEP (1); Kevin Lucas, Nevada (2); Mitchell McLeroy, Stephen F. Austin (3); Scott Willman, Nebraska (4); and Alfred Kerstis, UALR (5). The top five teams and one individual advance to the 115th NCAA Championships, May 29-June 3, at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Live scoring of both the regionals and NCAA Championships will be available at

Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 34th 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 nine NCAA Regionals, six Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles. In NCAA Championship play, he also has six third-place finishes, two fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit. Since 1978, his men's teams have won 62 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, and the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame on Nov. 23, 2009. He is assisted by Andy Barnes.

Last Time Out: Arizona finished the final round of the 2012 Pac-12 Golf Championships with a 369 (+9) score, and a final total of 1,493 (+53), which was good for tenth place. Both California and Oregon finished the event with final totals of 1428 (-12), and after a two-hole playoff, the Bears outlasted the Ducks to take the Pac-12 conference crown. Individually, Stanford's Andrew Yun, with three rounds in the 60s, took first place with a final of 257 (-13). The Wildcat squad was paced by the performance of sophomore Erik Oja, who finished even on the day for another top-20 finish at 16th place with a final total of 288 (E). Freshman Tucker Wadkins finished in a tie for 32nd place with a final of 295 (+7). Junior Juan Pablo Hernandezfinished with a final total of 301 (+13) for a tie for 47th place.

Last Year at the NCAA Regional: San Diego State led wire to wire in winning the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Arizona Regional May 21 in Tucson, Ariz., but the real drama of the day was in the battle for the fifth and final qualifying spot. Arizona's Tarquin MacManus registered birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17, and sophomore Juan Pablo Hernandez added one of his own on 18 to help the host Wildcats (844/-8) turn a two-shot deficit into a one-shot advantage over sixth-place Washington (845/-7). MacManus' heroics led the way for Arizona as he tied for seventh place individually at four-under 209. It was his fifth top-10 finish of the season and the third time MacManus has posted at top-10 effort at the NCAA regional in four career appearances. MacManus was joined in the top 20 by Hernandez, who tied for 14th place at two-under 211. It was Hernandez's low tournament total of the season and was his third top-20 finish in 2010-11. Jonathan Khan tied for 25th place at one-over 214, while Erik Oja tied for 32nd place at two-over 215. Stefan Cox tied for 48th place at six-over 219, to round out the UA participants. The 54-hole 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Arizona Regional was contested at Omni Tucson National Golf Resort, a par-71, 7,199-yard layout.
2011 NCAA Arizona Regional

Arizona Finishers	                	Team Finish
T7.  Tarquin MacManus, 67-71-71=209 (-4)	1.  San Diego State	833
T14. Juan Pablo Hernandez, 71-69-71=211 (-2)	2.  Texas A&M	        840
T25. Jonathan Khan, 71-68-75=214 (+1)   	3.  California	        843
T32. Erik Oja, 72-73-70=215 (+2)        	4.  ARIZONA	        844
T48. Stefan Cox, 76-72-71=219 (+6)		    Pepperdine	        844

Regional History: 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 third behind Oklahoma State's nine and Clemson's seven. Arizona's average finish in 22 previous NCAA regional appearances is 3.8. UA 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).

Finishing On Top: Arizona is no stranger to the top of the leader board, especially as a team. The Wildcats claimed the Arizona Intercollegiate, Jan. 31, by a stroke with an 835 (-17) total. It was the 72nd win in program history and the first since February of last year. It marks the third straight season in which the Wildcats have won at least one team tournament.

Quite a Legacy: Since the NCAA regional format was adopted in 1989, Arizona has advanced to the NCAA Championships under head coach Rick LaRoseevery time the team has qualified for the postseason and he has been present - a spotless 21 for 21 - in those 23 seasons. The only times UA has failed to advance was in 2008 when the Cats did not qualify for the postseason and in 2010 when LaRose was heading the UA women's team at the NCAA Championships.

The Power of Three: Going into the 2011 NCAA Regional, Juan Pablo Hernandezhad posted a total of seven rounds at or below par. A year later, the junior from Mexico City, Mexico, has posted three times that number with 21. Hernandez has also improved his low round by three strokes, posting a 66 at the Arizona Intercollegiate (Jan. 30), and finished in the top 10 four times, three more than his sophomore season.

Stable at the Top: While Arizona brings a lineup to the NCAA Regional made up of three upperclassmen (1 senior/2 juniors) and two underclassmen (1 sophomore/1 freshman), there are only two players - junior Juan Pablo Hernandez and sophomore Erik Oja- who have played every round with the Wildcat varsity. It's also not surprising that the duo ranks 1-2 when it comes to stroke average, top-10 and top-20 finishes and rounds at par or better. Additionally, Hernandez and Oja are the only two Cats who have a countable rounds percentage of better than 90 percent.

First Time: The five UA golfers participating this weekend have accounted for 65 rounds at par or better, seven under-par tournament totals, 10 top-10 finishes and nine top-20 efforts. This lineup - Hernandez, Oja, Wadkins, T. Redfern, Bagdade - has played together as a five-man unit once previously, where it finished 11th at the ASU/Thunderbird Invitational. The cumulative stroke average for this group is 73.61.

Red Numbers: Twice during the 2011-12 campaign Arizona finished a tournament under par - a 17-under 835 to open the spring at the Arizona Intercollegiate and a four-under 836 to close the regular season at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic. All told, the Cats registered eight under-par rounds as a team in 12 stroke play events with the lowest single round in relation to par, 277 (-7), occurring twice on Jan. 30 as the Cats played 36 holes to open play at the Arizona Intercollegiate an event the squad eventually won by a shot.

Heating Up: Junior Erik Ojahas been Arizona's hottest player of late, posting a 71.00 stroke average over his last four events (13 rounds) to go with three of top-20 finishes. Of those 13 rounds played, eight have been under par including four in the 60s. He was Arizona's top finisher at the Pac-12 Championships, carding a even-par 288 and finishing in 16th place. Additionally, the native of Sandviken, Sweden, has recorded his tournament low of 211 four times over his career, including two consecutive events this season (the Barona Collegiate Cup, March 22-23, and the ASU/Thunderbird Invitational, April 6-7), which put him at the top of the Wildcat leaderboard, and led to a pair of top-20 finishes.

Experience Matters: Heading into the 2011 regional, Juan Pablo Hernandez held a stroke average of 74.79, and a year later his average has dropped by nearly two and a half strokes to 72.35. Similarly, Erik Oja held a stroke average of 73.94 in 2011. A year later, Oja has improved his average by nearly a stroke and a half with a 72.55. Trent Redfernalso improved his 2011 average of 76.57 by nearly two strokes to a 74.62.

Good Starts: If one was look for the Wildcat most likely to post a good first-round number, look no further than freshman Tucker Wadkins, who has at par or better in the opening round in three of his last five tournaments, averaging a 71.00 in those first five 18-hole treks. His 74.24 stroke average currently ranks fourth on the team and nearly one-third of his rounds played have been at par or better.

Shining in the Spring: Senior Philip Bagdadehas made the most of his opportunity, as 19 of his 25 rounds played to date have come this spring. In that span, the native of Eugene, Ore., has posted a 74.89 stroke average and collected his lone top-20 finish of the season. He is the lone Wildcat to appear in multiple NCAA Regionals to date.

Low Tournaments: Of the four Wildcats in the Regional lineup that competed in the 2011 season, two have improved their low tournament scores to at or below par, joining Juan Pablo Hernandez and Erik Oja: Trent Redfern improved from a 227 (+11) at the Topy Cup (Sept. 10-11) and the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate (Oct. 1-2) to a 209 (-1) at this year's Wyoming Cowboy Classic (April 9-10), and Philip Bagdadeimproved a 220 (+4) at last year's Topy Cup to a 216 (E) at the Barona Collegiate Cup (March 22-23).

Up Next: The 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championships are scheduled for May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for the five teams and five individuals who qualify from this regional.

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