Dec. 21, 2012
By Adam Gonzales
Arizona Communication Services
With a pair of top-five finishes to its credit in fall competition, the Arizona men's golf team certainly experienced a number of positives, but first-year head coach Jim Anderson knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
The college golf season more resembles a marathon than a sprint, as the season stretches from September to June for elite program's like Arizona's. For Anderson, the focus is always on getting better.
"It's a long season and fortunately we have a lot of time to get better during the spring," Anderson said. "We certainly had some individual successes, but we still have a lot to work on before we can achieve the goals that we set."
As is the case in any team sport, finding the right lineup combinations can take some time. The Wildcats used a different lineup in each of the four fall events. That is all part of the process that has led into offseason workouts.
"Finding the right mix of guys can take some time," Anderson said. "We're working really hard now in the offseason to try to address some of the areas where we felt like we lost shots throughout the fall."
Even though many consider golf to be an individual sport, college golf does have a unique team ethos. In most tournaments, five-man teams compete with the low four scores counting toward the team total in each round.
In the end, the team is only as strong as its weakest member, and when all five are playing well, that makes for a very strong team.
Anderson is trying to instill the mindset that the team is much more important than the individual.
"Moving forward, we are going to try to play for something that is bigger than ourselves," he said. "We want to play for the team. If we have a player that wins the tournament individually, but we finish in third, four shots behind the leader, even the player who wins didn't do enough. It doesn't matter where we finish individually in any given week, it's all about the team and how it performs."
The Wildcats competed in four events during the fall season: the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate, the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate, the Pac-12 Preview and the Lone Star Invitational. Arizona earned two top-five finishes in those tournaments, including a runner-up effort at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate.
"There were some points where we felt like we played well, and had a chance to compete with anyone we teed it up with," Anderson said. "But there are also areas we need to improve because if we don't then we will be facing some tough times ahead."
In September's Itani Quality Homes Collegiate in Pullman, Washington, the Wildcats finished in second place as a team, shooting a total score of 887 (+23). Arizona was lead by Dylan Healey who finished in a tie for second place with a score of 217 (+1), and Trent Redfern, who earned a tie for eighth place with a score of 222 (+6). Healey had his lowest individual round in this tournament, which was a 68 (-4) in the second round of the tournament.
Arizona finished off the fall at the Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio, Texas, where the Wildcats finished in fifth place with a score of 886 (+22). Erik Oja had his best tournament of the fall by finishing in a tie for ninth place with a score of 217 (+1).
Individually, Trent Redfern and Oja had eight of the Wildcats' 12 lowest rounds for the fall, and each collected three top-20 finishes.
Oja posted a 73.42 scoring average to lead the Cats.
"Statistically, Erik has been our best player," Anderson said. "He had a very solid fall campaign and he's a guy that we are going to rely on a lot looking forward."
Redfern finished the fall with a 73.67 scoring average, and according to his coach, made an impact on and off the course.
"Trent has made some big strides as well," Anderson said. "I think he's stepped up and embraced a leadership role, and I think he will be another guy that will be a rock for us because of his work ethic."
Regardless, Anderson knows he has a talented bunch to work with. "I told the guys that if you were recruited to play at the University of Arizona, you're a great golfer," he said. "There were so many great players before us and there will be so many great ones in the future. We just have to keep our focus. The key for us is to figure out which six guys are prepared and capable of winning a Pac-12 championship."
The Wildcats open its spring season at home, Jan. 28-29, at the Arizona Intercollegiate.