April 19, 2002
On the Tee: Bolstered by two strong finishes in its last two events, the Arizona Wildcats head to Corvallis, Ore., for the 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, April 25-27 ... After a slow start to the spring, UA is averaging 284.33 strokes over its last six rounds and has been under par in five ... Arizona has six top-five finishes in 10 team events this year.
The Rankings: After opening the season as the nation's second-ranked team, Arizona closed the fall portion of the schedule ranked No. 11 by Golf World magazine and currently hold down a No. 13 ranking by Golf World, 18th in the Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll and No. 22 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Golf World also selected UA junior Ricky Barnes as the nation's Preseason Player of the Year and included sophomore Chris Nallen in its "50 College Players to Watch" list. Individually, three UA players are ranked in the top 135 nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. In case you wondered, Arizona is ranked No. 4 nationally in the GCAA Fan Poll.
A Look at the 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Championships: Oregon State hosts the 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, April 25-27 at Trysting Tree Golf Club, a par 72, 7,022-yard layout. The 10-team tournament includes Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State, and host Oregon State. Three of those teams (Arizona, USC, Washington) are ranked in the April 18 Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll. The 72-hole event features 36 holes on Thursday and 18 on Friday and Saturday. Six players will compete for each team with the top five scores counting in each round. Play is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. PDT on Thursday and 8 a.m. thereafter. Arizona has won this event twice in its history (1987/1991) and claimed six individual winners since joining the league in 1978-79.
The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events Ricky Barnes Jr. 72.55 2/3 67 11 Chris Nallen So. 71.06 5/5 65 11 Reid Hatley Jr. 72.93 2/3 67 10 Kipp Riehle Fr. 74.13 1/1 68 10 Andy Connell So. 75.94 0/0 69 6 Nathan Lashley Fr. 75.46 0/0 70 10
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 24th season at the helm of the Arizona golf program, and in that span has established the Wildcats as one of the finest programs in the nation. The only college coach to win both a men's (1992) and women's (1996) NCAA Championship, LaRose's teams have won seven NCAA Regionals, five Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles. In NCAA Championship play, he also has five third-place finishes, a fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit. Since 1978, his men's teams have won 44 tournaments and produced 57 All-Americans. He is assisted by John Knauer.
Last Time Out: UA posted its lowest tournament total of the year to tie for fifth place at the ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational. Arizona's 845 (-19) total was its lowest of the season by eight strokes and placed the team in a tie for fifth with TCU in the 16-team field. Arizona, who notched three sub-par rounds in a tournament for the first time this season, posted the eighth-lowest team total in the ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational since 1988. Texas won its second straight event in the state in the last six days with an 832 (-32) total. Individually, Arizona was led by junior Ricky Barnes, who finished tied for 10th place with a seven-under 209 total. Barnes' final-round 70 gave him his lowest tournament total of the season. All told, Arizona collected 11 rounds at par or better from its five-man lineup in the two-day event. Also competing for the Wildcats was sophomore Chris Nallen, who tied for 19th place at 211 (-5), freshman Kipp Riehle, who tied for 38th place at 215 (-1), sophomore Andy Connell, who tied for 47th place at 217 (+1) and junior Reid Hatley, who tied for 63rd at 220 (+4). Two UA freshman also competed as individuals. Nick Juszczak and Nathan Lashley both tied for 72nd place at 223 (+7).
Last Year at the Pac-10 Championships: Sophomore Ricky Barnes shot a final-round 68 to win the individual title at the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Golf Championships. Barnes, who led the event wire-to-wire, claimed individual medalist honors with a four-round total of 268 (-16). It was the fourth career victory for Barnes, and his second of the year. Barnes' 16-under-par total was a record low for a UA golfer at the Pac-10 Championships. His title marked the sixth time a Wildcat golfer has won the Pac-10 championship since UA joined the league in 1978-79. Barnes was one of just two golfers in the 60-player field to register four consecutive rounds in the 60s. He won the tournament by three strokes over Hunter Mahan of USC, who tallied a 271 total (-13). UA freshman Chris Nallen continued his run of strong play by posting a fifth-place finish with a 276 total (-8). The duo of Barnes and Nallen helped the Wildcats finish in third place as a team. UA tallied a 355 team total (E) on Sunday and finished with a 1,408 total (-12). Arizona, which placed fifth in this event last season, finished eight strokes behind USC, which won the tourney with a 1,400 total (-20). Sophomore Reid Hatley closed the tournament with two sub-par rounds and finished in 11th place. Hatley fired a one-under-par 70 Sunday and posted a 282 total (-2). Also competing for the Wildcats were juniors Cody Beyer and Ben Clark and freshman Andy Connell. Beyer finished in 41st place at 293 (+9), while Connell finished tied for 42nd at 294 (+10) and Clark finished tied for 49th at 296 (+10).
Arizona Individuals Team Finish 1. Ricky Barnes 65-66-69-68=268 (-16) 1. USC 1400 T5. Chris Nallen 66-68-70-72=276 (-8) 2. Arizona State 1404 11. Reid Hatley 71-72-69-70=282 (-2) 3. ARIZONA 1408 41. Cody Beyer 74-73-75-71=293 (+9) 4. Washington 1411 T42. Andy Connell 76-73-70-75=294 (+10) 5. UCLA 1430 T49. Ben Clark 78-72-72-74=296 (+12)
Hogan Award: Sophomore Chris Nallen was Tuesday named one of 20 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award, which honors the nation's outstanding male college golfer. The award, given by the Friends of Golf, Colonial Country Club and the Golf Coaches Association of America, is based on play from May 1, 2001-May 1, 2002.
Defending Champion: Junior Ricky Barnes heads into the conference championships looking to defend the individual title he won after shooting a four-round 268 (-16) last season. If he could pull off the feat, Barnes would join Arizona's Jason Gore (1993/1994) and Arizona State's Paul Casey (1998/1999/2000) as the only players to win back-to-back conference titles since UA and ASU joined the league in 1978-79.
Been Here Before: The Trysting Tree Golf Club is certainly one that the field is familiar with, as nine of 10 league members participated in last year's NCAA West Regional on the same layout. The Cats tallied a three-over-par 867 and finished second in the event behind Arizona State. Four of the six UA golfers in the lineup for the 2002 Pac-10 Championships appeared in last year's Regional, including Chris Nallen, who finished tied for fourth at 213 (-3).
Steady Improvement: As mentioned earlier, Arizona heads into the Pac-10 Championships playing some of its best golf of the season, as the squad has posted five consecutive rounds under par. Furthermore, the Cats have carded an improved tournament total in each of the last five tournaments. Seven of UA's nine sub-par team rounds have come in spring competition.
Really Red Numbers: Since posting a 77 and equaling his worst round of the season on March 25, sophomore Chris Nallen has been red hot. In the eight rounds since then, the Blairstwon, N.J., native has earned two top-five finishes (including a runner-up finish at the U.S. Collegiate Championships) and is averaging 68.88 strokes per round. Seven of those eight rounds have been under par, including four in the 60s.
A Top-10 Guy: Nallen earned runner-up honors with a 65-73-68=206 (-10) total at the PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships, April 7, and put his name in the UA record books as well. His three-round score tied for 10th place on the UA scoring list for low tournament aggregate total and score in relation to par. In his two-year career, Nallen has eight top-10 finishes, including one career victory, in 24 starts.
Snapping Out of It: Ricky Barnes may be reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. After struggling for much of the season with his putter, the junior carded a 70-69-70=209 (-7) last week at the ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational, which was his best tournament total since early February. It marked the first time all season that Barnes has been under par in all three rounds of a tournament and his second sub-par total of 2001-02. He enters the Pac-10 Championships with a 72.55 stroke average this season, 1.50 strokes higher than his career stroke average entering the year. Prior to last weekend, Barnes had been over par in 10 of last 12 rounds.
Rock Solid: Junior Reid Hatley continues to be one the least-heralded golfers in the UA lineup, but his contributions are key to Wildcat success. Remarkably consistent, Hatley has picked up the pace lately by posting a 72.25 stroke average over the last eight events (24 rounds). Included in that span are 12 rounds at par or better, which have helped Hatley to a pair of top-10 and three top-20 finishes. His three-under 213 and a tie for seventh place at the John Burns Intercollegiate in February both equaled season bests for the Spokane, Wash., native.
In Relief: With the format change for the Pac-10 Championships that counts five scores out of six golfers, freshman Nathan Lashley joins the UA lineup for the weekend. Lashley proved his worth by posting a 75.46 stroke average in 10 tournaments this season. His run of solid play started in Oregon with a tie for 25th place March 26, as he carded a 76-71-72=219 (+3) total at Oregon Duck Invitational. Lashley is averaging 73.58 strokes in his last four appearances with the UA varsity. Additionally, he's posted a 71.33 stroke average in the final round of his last three appearances.
Stepping Up: Sophomore Andy Connell's efforts over the last two weeks were as important as any in helping the team earn top-five finishes at the PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships and the ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational. The Denver, Colo., native has averaged 73.50 strokes over the last two events, including a season-low 217 (+1) finish last week in Tempe, Ariz. In the last two weeks, Connell has posted his best placement (T34), low tournament total, set a season-low round (69), and collected all four of his sub-par rounds this season.
In the 60s: UA carded four more sub-70 rounds last week to bring the team's 2001-02 total to 22 rounds in the 60s. Individually, Nallen leads the way with eight, Barnes has four, and freshman Kipp Riehle has three.
Preseason Player of the Year: Junior Ricky Barnes was tabbed by Golf World magazine as the No. 1 men's college golfer in the nation. The Stockton, Calif., native has 13 top-10 finishes in his two-year career, including four victories. His 71.05 career stroke average is the lowest in school history. Sophomore Chris Nallen was named to the publication's "50 College Golfers to Watch" list.
Early Signees: University of Arizona men's golf coach Rick LaRose signed three student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent during the November signing period. Zack Amole (Devner, Pa./Cocalico H.S.), Brett Carter (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe H.S.) and Blaine Peffley (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest H.S.) will join the Wildcat golf program in the Fall 2002.
A Quick Look Back at the Fall Schedule: Arizona collected two top-five finishes in four fall team events, including a fourth-place effort at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate in October. Playing with a lineup that featured two freshmen and no seniors for the majority of the fall, the Wildcats improved its scoring average with each passing tournament and finished the fall with a 291.00 stroke average. Sophomore Chris Nallen collected two top-10 and three top-20 finishes in five individual events and finished with a team-leading 71.53 stroke average.
2000-01 In Review: Arizona closed another highly-successful season with its 15th consecutive berth in the NCAA Championships. The Cats finished third for the second straight season. No team west of the Central Time Zone has finished ahead of UA at the NCAA Championships in the last two years. Arizona earned two team championships in 2000-01, including the CGF Match Play National Championship in November, and three individual wins. Ricky Barnes and Chris Nallen were named to the 2000-01 GCAA NCAA Division I Ping All-America team on June 3.