Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
2006 NCAA West Regional Third Round Release, Results & Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 21, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Arizona and Florida engaged in a scoring duel Saturday that left the rest of the field in the dust as the teams shared the team championship at the 2006 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf West Regional at Omni Tucson National Golf Course.


The host Wildcats and Gators combined for 46 birdies and three eagles en route to topping the field by 13 strokes.  After 54 holes of action, Arizona and Florida carded identical 37-under-par totals of 827.  Washington, which tallied the low round of the day at 271 (-17), and Arizona State tied for third place at 24-under 840.  North Carolina State finished in fifth place at 845.


“This was a great finish,” said Arizona head coach Rick LaRose.  “Coach (Buddy) Alexander from Florida and I go way back and it was really exciting for us today to kind of battle it out down to the last hole.  We had a good time. It’s only fitting that we tied for first (with Florida).”


The regional win was the sixth NCAA regional crown for Arizona, which is the second most in the country, and the third for Florida.  Additionally, the 37-under-par tally matched an Arizona school record for low tournament total in relation to par, while setting a new Florida scoring record.


On a day in which all five players for both teams finished under par on the day, Arizona and Florida separated themselves from the rest of the 27-team field early.  Arizona, which held a three-stroke lead entering the final round, and Florida were a combined 17-under after nine holes.


“We got in the wrong lane in NASCAR terms,” explained North Carolina State head coach Richard Sykes, whose team was paired with Arizona and Florida today. 


The top-seeded Gators held a two-stroke lead heading into the last two holes before the Wildcats’ Josh Esler single-handedly closed the gap with an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 17 and a 12-footer on No. 18 to clinch a tie for the team title.


It was the second team championship this season for Arizona and the fourth for Florida.  The Gators moved into the top slot in this event after finishing as the runner-up five times in 2005-06, including its last three outings.


“We tied for first which is really exciting for us considering we have finished second in so many tournaments this season, so this was really nice,” said Florida head coach Buddy Alexander. “We did a little better than yesterday, where we were a little sloppy. Now we are going to go to nationals and will continue to get better.”


Florida freshman Billy Horschel and Nevada senior Casey Watabu tied for individual medalist honors with 13-under 203 totals.  Hirschel carded a six-under 66 Saturday, while Watabu fired an eight-under 64, the low individual round of the tournament, to top the 141-man field.


“I hit the ball very well (today),” Watabu said. “I got a couple of lucky bounces on 17 and 18 and made some putts today. I hit and putted the ball (well). Everything came together today.”


Also qualifying for the 2006 NCAA Championships, May 31-June 3, at the Crosswater Club at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore., were Brigham Young, Loyola Marymount, East Tennessee State, Pepperdine and Nevada, and individuals Dustin Pimm of Utah and James Love of Denver. 


The 2006 NCAA West Regional was contested at Omni Tucson National Golf Course, a par 72, 7,200-yard layout.



Team Standings

1.      Arizona                            279-273-275=827 (-37)

         Florida                             273-282-272=827 (-37)

3.      Arizona State                   284-273-283=840 (-24)

         Washington                      288-281-271=840 (-24)

5.      North Carolina State          282-273-290=845 (-19)

6.      Brigham Young                 282-288-277=847 (-17)

         Loyola Marymount            284-281-282=847 (-17)

8.      East Tennessee State       284-280-285=849 (-15)

9.      Pepperdine                       283-287-281=851 (-13)

         Nevada                             282-287-282=851 (-13)

11.     New Mexico State             287-283-286=856 (-8)

12.     Fresno State                    280-286-292=858 (-6)

         New Mexico                     290-285-283=858 (-6)

14.     Alabama                          289-292-279=860 (-4)

         Stanford                           283-290-287=860 (-4)

16.     UC-Irvine                          283-284-294=861 (-3)

17.     San Diego State               290-289-283=862 (-2)

         Houston                           295-288-279=862 (-2)

19.     Cal Poly                           290-287-289=866 (+2)

20.     Baylor                              289-294-285=868 (+4)

21.     Santa Clara                      289-302-285=876 (+12)

22.     Louisville                          290-302-288=880 (+16)

         Denver                             293-296-291=880 (+16)

24.     Western Kentucky            294-295-293=882 (+18)

25.     San Diego                        299-294-299=892 (+28)

26.     Bucknell                           297-300-312=909 (+45)

27.     Jackson State                  314-299-297=910 (+46) 


Top-10 Individuals

1.      Billy Horschel, Florida                         67-70-66=203 (-13)

         Casey Watabu, Nevada                       70-69-64=203 (-13)

3.      Zach Bixler, Washington                      69-68-67=204 (-12)

         Rhys Davies, East Tennessee State     70-66-68=204 (-12)

5.      Josh Esler, Arizona                             69-69-68=206 (-10)

         Niklas Lemke, Arizona State                70-68-68=206 (-10)

         Brian Locke, Loyola Marymount           70-67-69=206 (-10)

         Dustin Pimm, Utah                              66-68-72=206 (-10)

9.      Matt Every, Florida                              67-70-70=207 (-9)

         Ben Fox, Arizona                                71-68-68=207 (-9)


NCAA Championship Qualifiers

School                                     Champ. App.    Consecutive

Arizona                                              24                     20

Florida                                               43                      6

Arizona State                                     44                      4

Washington                                       19                      8

North Carolina State                           16                      1

Brigham Young                                  30                      3

Loyola Marymount                           First

East Tennessee State                        15                      1

Pepperdine                                          7                      1

Nevada                                                3                      1


2006 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf West Regional

May 18-20, 2006

Omni Tucson National Golf Course

Tucson, Ariz.

Hosted by the University of Arizona



Third Round Quotes

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Richard Sykes, Head Coach, North Carolina State University

“We struggled today.  We got in the wrong lane in NASCAR terms.  We played well enough the first two days to maybe be able to have a bad day and still gave ourselves the opportunity to make it to Oregon.”


Stephen Lewton, senior, North Carolina State University

“Today was slow, I didn’t do anything special.  We need to practice more, this week has shown that we can compete with the really good teams and it has given the guys the confidence to keep playing strong.”


Rick LaRose, Head Coach, University of Arizona

“This was a great finish. This is the most stressful week in college golf for all teams because your whole season comes down to these three rounds. Coach Alexander from Florida and I go way back and it was really exciting for us today to kind of battle it out down to the last hole.  We had a good time. This is probably the most fun I have had at a golf regional and it’s only fitting that we tied for first (with Florida).


“This tournament was a huge step for this young team. They played really well the whole tournament and I couldn’t be more proud.”


Ben Fox, freshman, University of Arizona

“It felt good out there today.  I got off to a great start.  I played really strong, I didn’t have any begeys today.  Our team is peaking at the right time.  Hopefully we can do some damage up in Oregon.”


Josh Esler, junior, University of Arizona

“I made a bogey early on which got me going.  I knew we were two back going into 17 and 18.  I just told myself, ?'this one has to have a chance.’  This is what you practice for.  Just to have the opportunity is what you are looking for.  It was a lot of fun out there.  To have the opportunity to do something for your team like that is awesome.”


Buddy Alexander, Head Coach, University of Florida

“We tied for first which is really exciting for us considering we have finished second in so many tournaments this season, so this was really nice. We did a little better than yesterday, where we were a little sloppy. Now we are going to go to nationals and continue to get better.  That seems to be what we do all the time.”


Billy Horschel, freshman, University of Florida

“I had a really good day. I came out with confidence and putted really well. I wasn’t sure how I was going to play at the beginning of the tournament, but I came out really strong at the beginning of the meet. I didn’t hit it very well yesterday but Coach Alexander worked with me on my swing just a little bit and I came out hitting today much better. It’s really exciting to be going to nationals considering it’s my first time, and I’m glad my team tied for the win today.”


Matt Every, senior, University of Florida

“I started off really bad today, but I fought back toward the end. I’m glad we tied for first.  Everything went really well the last few days. Now we are just going to go back to Florida and get ready to do our thing at nationals.”


Alex Galvan, Head Coach, Loyola Marymount University

“They played phenomenal. They played great. I’ve been telling them the whole the year that they are worthy of winning a tournament and now they believe it too. They have worked so hard.  This is incredible.”


Brian Locke, freshman, Loyola Marymount University

“Overall, I played pretty well. I struggled on the last few holes; I was five-under with four holes to go.”


Fred Warren, Head Coach, East Tennessee State University

“It’s nice to be done. I hope our score is good enough to get us in. Rhys (Davies) played exceptionally well and we did well for having a young team.”


Rhys Davies, junior, East Tennessee State University

“Today, I played quite nice. I made five birdies and one bogey so it was quite simple. My short game was there.”


Randy Lein, Head Coach, Arizona State University

“We didn’t look to reach Arizona and Florida; we are here to advance. We got out slow and played par golf. Our team did well yesterday. We got good scores from our fourth and fifth guys. When we start getting help from the entire team it is helpful.”


Benjamin Alvarado Holley, freshman, Arizona State University

“I played pretty well on the front nine and was five-under. I hit the ball too strong and made a double bogey on 18.”


Mike Watney, Head Coach, Fresno State University

“It looks like we are not going to make it. It’s always disappointing at the end of the year when you don’t go on to the next level, but I’m very proud of the guys. They battled all year long and that’s all you can really do.”


Jason Anthony, senior, Fresno State University

“The day went alright. It just didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped and didn’t really get things going. This season went really well. This is a great group of guys and I wish we could have done a little better. I had a great time this year regardless.”


Paul Smolinski, Head Coach, UC-Irvine

“It was a struggle today.  We had a few guys that had a good round but not enough.  We are a young team, but being here was a great experience for us.  Hopefully we can make it back here next year and do our best to make it further into the tournament. 


Brian Edick, junior, UC-Irvine

“I did pretty well. I didn’t get enough birdies on the back nine, but the tournament went really well and I played pretty consistently the whole time. Today I just never really got going liked I’d hoped. I made a birdie at the beginning of the back nine and I thought that would be the start of something, but it wasn’t.”


Matt Thurmond, Head Coach, University of Washington

“We had an awesome round today.  We had all the pressure on us, and we were on the bubble but we were able to play our best when it counted.  Now we are going to Oregon, and nothing feels better than that.  The course in Oregon is a totally different course, but one we are used to.  We need to get some rest and come out ready to play.”


Zach Bixler, sophomore, University of Washington

“I played a good round today and pretty good for the whole week.  I was able to take advantage

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