April 9, 2002
On the Tee: Fresh off one of its best performances of the season, Arizona heads up the road to Tempe, Ariz., to compete in the Savane/ASU Thunderbird Invitational ... It is the Cats' last scheduled event before the 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, April 22-24, in Corvallis, Ore. ... The Thunderbird Invitational ends a busy stretch in the schedule for UA, as the team played in four tournaments over 44days.
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, 19th in the Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll and No. 25 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 125 nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
A Look at the Savane/ASU Thunderbird Invitational: Arizona State hosts Savane/ASU Thunderbird Invitational, April 12-13 at Karsten Golf Course, a par 72, 7,037-yard layout. The 15-team tournament includes Arizona, host Arizona State, BYU, Houston, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pepperdine, Stanford, Texas, Texas Christian, UCLA, USC and Washington. Six of those teams are ranked in the most recent Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll. The 54-hole event features 36 holes on Friday and 18 on Saturday with a shotgun start scheduled for 7 a.m. PDT both days. Arizona has won this event twice in its history (1987/1993) and claimed an individual winner in 1988 (Mike Springer).
The Probable Arizona Lineup: Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events Ricky Barnes Jr. 72.83 2/2 67 10 Chris Nallen So. 71.13 5/4 65 10 Reid Hatley Jr. 72.89 2/3 67 9 Kipp Riehle Fr. 74.41 1/1 68 9 Andy Connell So. 76.77 0/0 69 5
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: Arizona continued its strong play in the final round of the PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships last Sunday, but couldn't catch tournament-winner Texas, who won the event by two strokes. Texas held a nine-stroke lead heading into the final round and, once again, Arizona made it close by carding its second straight sub-par team total. The Wildcats' 284 (-4) total shaved seven strokes off the Longhorn lead, but it was UT's depth that made the difference. Three Texas individuals finished in the top-20 places to give the squad a three-round total of 859 (-5) and the two-stroke win over Arizona. Leading the way for Arizona was sophomore Chris Nallen, who posted a three-round 206 (-10) to finish in second place individually. It was a career-low tournament for Nallen, and his total tied for the 10th best score in UA history in both aggregate total and in relation to par. The native of Blairstown, N.J., shot a final-round 68 (-4) to break 70 for the fourth time in his last six rounds played. Oklahoma State's Hunter Mahan carded a three-under 69 Sunday to claim individual medalist honors at 204 (-12). UA junior Ricky Barnes finished in a tie for 20th place with a three-round 221 (+5). For Barnes, who was two-over on Sunday, it was his fourth top-20 finish of the season. Junior Reid Hatley and freshman Kipp Riehle tied for 24th at 222 (+6), while sophomore Andy Connell finished tied for 34th place at 224 (+8). Connell, who shot a one-under 71 on Sunday, was a collective four-under par over the last 36 holes.
Last Year at the Savane/ASU Thunderbird Invitational: The Wildcats carded a six-under par 282 to finish in sixth place at the Savane/ASU Thunderbird Invitational. It was UA's fourth top-10 finish of the spring.
Arizona's team total of 852 (-12) was the squad's second best team score to date in 2000-01. The team's third-round 282 was the third-lowest score of the day and marked the third time in the last five rounds that UA came in under par.
Individually, Ricky Barnes earned runner-up honors with a three-round total of 207 (-9). The sophomore fired a final-round 67, the lowest round of any player in the top 10, to post his best tournament total since winning the Savane All-America Golf Classic on Nov. 21. Junior Cody Beyer posted a top-20 finish with a 212 (-4) total. Beyer shot a final-round 70 to finish tied for 18th place.
Arizona Individuals Team Finish 2. Ricky Barnes 68-72-67=207 (-9) 1. Arizona State 839 T18. Cody Beyer 69-73-70=212 (-4) 2. Texas 845 T54. Reid Hatley 74-72-71=217 (+1) 3. USC 847 T60. Chris Nallen 73-71-74=218 (+2) 4. Houston 848 T76. Andy Connell 72-75-74=221 (+5) 5. Oklahoma State 849 T87. Brandon Smith* 74-76-73=223 (+7) 6. ARIZONA 852 102. Tim Weiss* 78-76-76=230 (+14)
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.
Safe at Home: Call it a home course advantage, but it's probably more than a little coincidental that Arizona has posted its two best tournament totals of the season at home in Tucson: 853 at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate in February and 861 at last week's PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships. The Cats are averaging 285.67 strokes per round in those two UA-hosted events and 291.48 strokes per round in the other seven team events.
Showing Improvement: After carding a first-round 290 (+2) in near-perfect conditions last week at the U.S. Collegiate Championships, Arizona managed to make quite a run and finish second in the 10-team event. The Cats managed to cut 10 strokes off its first-round deficit and move up six places in the standings. No team, however, played the final 36 holes better than Arizona's cumulative five-under-par tally, while UA's 861 total was the team's second-lowest total of the year. It also marked just the third time this season that the Cats have strung together back-to-back sub-par team totals.
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 five rounds since then, the Blairstwon, N.J., native has earned two top-five finishes (including a runner-up finish last week) and is averaging 68.0 strokes per round. Four of those five rounds have been in the 60s, including a pair of 65s.
A Top-10 Guy: Nallen earned runner-up honors with a 65-73-68=206 (-10) total at last week's PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships 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.
His Struggles Continue: Junior Ricky Barnes' struggles with his putter have left him with a 72.83 stroke average this season, 1.78 strokes higher than his career stroke average entering the year. He opened the spring with a 71-67-69=207 (-6) fourth-place effort at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate in early February, but has been over par in 10 of 12 rounds since.
A Solid No. 3 Guy: Reid Hatley has picked up the pace lately by posting a 72.09 stroke average over the last seven events (21 rounds). Included in that span are 11 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. Prior to last week's 222 (+6) at the U.S. Collegiate Championships, Hatley had not had a tournament total higher than 219 over his last seven outings.
Could Help Be on the Way?: Freshman Nathan Lashley took a big step towards making a dent in the lineup when he carded a 76-71-72=219 (+3) total at Oregon Duck Invitational two weeks ago. He followed that up with a 223 (+7) total, which was good enough to finish tied for 30th, at the PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships. He played the final 36 holes last week at one-over par and is averaging 73.33 strokes in his last three appearances with the UA varsity. Through nine events this season, Lashley carries a 75.60 stroke average.
Stepping Up: Sophomore Andy Connell's efforts last week were as important as any in helping the team earn the second-place finish at the PING-U.S. Collegiate Championships. The Denver, Colo., native played the final 36 holes at four-under to claim a tie for 34th place at 224 (+8). Both his finish and tournament totals were season bests. Connell also carded the low round of the day in Saturday's second round, as he battled 35 mph wind gusts to post a 69 (-3). It was his first sub-par round of the year. His two sub-par rounds to close the tournament dropped his stroke average to 76.77 in five appearances this season.
In the 60s: UA carded three more sub-70 rounds last week to bring the team's 2001-02 total to 18 rounds in the 60s. Individually, Nallen leads the way with eight, Barnes has three, and freshman Kipp Riehle has two.
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 announced Wednesday that three student-athletes have signed National Letters-of-Intent to attend the school and play golf. 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.