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20070615 Men's Golf 2006-07 Season In Review
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 06/15/2007
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Arizona Closes 2007 Season with NCAA Championship Berth

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In the Cup: ? The Wildcats capped the 2006-07 season with five top-three finishes in 15 events, including berths in both the NCAA West Regional and the NCAA Championships ... It marked Arizonaˇ?s 25th appearance in program history and was the 21st consecutive ... The Cats are one of only two programs nationally to qualify for the championships in every season since the regional format was instituted in 1989 ... UAˇ?s string of 21 straight NCAA Championship appearances is the second longest active streak in the country ... Arizona has had at least one individual medalist in each of the last eight seasons and has received a national ranking in each of the last 29 years.

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The Rankings:? The Wildcats finished the season ranked 25th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and No. 23 in the final Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll of the regular season (May 16).? Individually, senior Brian Prouty was top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 54 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.? Four other UA golfers finished in the top 200.

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The Regular Arizona Lineup:

Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Rounds

Brian Prouty Sr. 71.87 3/0 62 31

Josh Esler Sr. 73.03 0/5 66 40

Nathan Tyler Sr. 71.97 3/2 67 31

Josh Wilks Sr. 72.62 2/2 68 34

Pedro Oriol Fr. 73.18 2/3 66 39

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Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . completed his 29th season at the helm of the Arizona golf program, and in that span has established the Wildcats as one of the nationˇ?s elite programs.? The only college coach to win both a menˇ?s (1992) and womenˇ?s (1996) NCAA Championship, LaRoseˇ?s teams have won eight NCAA Regionals, six Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles.? In NCAA Championship play, he also has six third-place finishes, a fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit.? Since 1978, his menˇ?s teams have won 58 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.? He was assisted by John Knauer .

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Last Time Out: ? Arizona shot a one-over-par 281 in the third round and finished in 24th place at the 2007 NCAA Championships at Golden Horseshoe Golf Course in Williamsburg, Va.

Arizonaˇ?s one-over day gave the team three-round total of 858 (+18) and placed 25th in the 30-team field. The teamˇ?s effort was easily its best of the championships, and elevated the Cats one spot on the leaderboard.

Arizona missed the 54-hole cut by seven strokes.? Stanford went on to win the national championship with a 72-hole total of 1,109 (-11).

While UAˇ?s season came to a close, the Wildcats did manage its best day at Golden Horseshoe, posting its first two under-par rounds of the event. Senior Josh Wilks capped his UA career with a two-under-par 68, Arizonaˇ?s low round of the championships, en route to a five-over 215 total and a tie for 74th place.

USCˇ?s Jamie Lovemark claimed individual medalist honors with a nine-under 271 total.

Senior Nathan Tyler and freshman Pedro Oriol tied for 83rd place at six-over 216. Tyler carded a third-round 72 (+2), while Oriol tallied a three-over 73.

Senior Brian Prouty shot a one-under 69 Friday to finish in a tie for 92nd place at 217 (+7). Prouty played the last two rounds at even par, the lowest for any Wildcat. Josh Esler finished in a tie for 102nd place at eight-over 218 after posting a 72 in his final collegiate round.

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All-Americans: ? Arizona failed to earn at least one All-America accolade, marking the first time since 1991 that the program did not have at least one All-American. Over the last 15 seasons, a total of 16 different Wildcats earned 29 All-America accolades.

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All-Academic: ? The Wildcats had three student-athletes named to the Pacific-10 Conferenceˇ?s All-Academic teams, the league announced June 1.? Trey Denton and Brian Prouty were second-team honorees for the men, while Nicholas Park was an honorable mention selection.

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Arizona and the U.S. Open: ? Arizona once again will be well represented when the United States Golf Association hosts the 2007 United States Open Championship, as three former Wildcats have qualified for the 156-man field. One of those players qualified June 4 in a sectional qualifier, while two others earned exemptions.? Ricky Barnes, Jim Furyk and Rory Sabbatini will all compete for the 107th U.S. Open Championship, June 14-17, at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.? Eight other players with UA ties missed the cut in sectional qualifiers. Included in that group is current Wildcat Brian Prouty , who shot a 73-77ˇ?150 at the sectional qualifier at the OSU Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.

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International Activity: ? A pair of Wildcats are taking part in international events this summer.? Freshman Pedro Oriol , a native of Madrid, Spain, is representing Europe in the Palmer Cup matches, while sophomore Ben Fox , a product of Studio City, Calif., is representing the United States in the inaugural USA China Friendship Cup.

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Twenty Plus: ? Arizona entered the 2007 Division I Menˇ?s Golf NCAA Championships riding a streak of 21 consecutive appearances in the event, which is the second-longest active streak in the nation. Only Oklahoma Stateˇ?s string of 61 berths (1947-present) tops Arizonaˇ?s efforts. No other school in the country has a streak of more than 10. During the streak, the Cats have 10 top-10 finishes, including the 1992 national championship.

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Select Six: According to championship records, Arizona is one of only six programs in NCAA history to register 20 or more consecutive appearances in the Division I Menˇ?s Golf Championships since 1939. For the complete listing, see the box in the bottom right corner of page four.

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When It Counts: ? The Wildcatsˇ? 36-under-par 828 total in the NCAA West Regional was the third-lowest tournament total in school history.? It was the first time in 13 stroke play events that all five UA players finished a tournament under par.? The Wildcatsˇ? 828 tally was 13 strokes lower than any other tournament total this season.? It was one of seven under-par tournament tallies for the Cats this year.? Furthermore, of the three lowest tournament totals in program history, two came in the 2006 and 2007 NCAA West Regional.? Over the last two seasons, UA is a combined 73 strokes under par in the NCAA Regional.

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Another Scoring Note: ? En route to the 36-under total at the West Regional, Arizona posted a 17-under 271 final-round total, which was the lowest single round for the program on a par-72 course since 1993.? The figure also equaled the fourth-lowest single round in school history.? Not surprisingly, UA posted four scores in the 60s during the round, which was the first time the Cats had accomplished that feat this season.? Three players in the UA regional lineup (Josh Esler , Pedro Oriol , Nathan Tyler ) posted season-low tournament totals in the regional.

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Red Numbers: ? Arizonaˇ?s regional effort in which it posted three consecutive rounds under par in a single tournament marked just the third time this season that the Wildcats were able to accomplish the feat ?C Nov. 6-7 at the CordeValle Collegiate and April 2-3 at the National Invitational Tournament were the others. UA played the final 36 holes of the regional at 30-under par, a figure that ranked third in the 27-team field. Additionally, Arizonaˇ?s final-round 271 at the regional was easily the lowest final-round tally of the year.

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All-Conference: ? Seniors Brian Prouty and Nathan Tyler were recognized with all-Pac-10 honors in voting done by the leagueˇ?s head menˇ?s golf coaches. Prouty was a second team selection, while Tyler received honorable mention accolades.? It marked the first time that either player has be recognized with all-conference accolades.? Since joining the Pac-10 in 1978-79, Arizona menˇ?s golf has had 91 student-athletes earn all-Pac-10 honors.

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A Quicker Solution: ?On a team where it took 10 stroke play events to settle on a regular lineup, a quick glance at the rounds at par or better statistical category could have expedited the process.? Not surprisingly, each of the top five players in that category established itself as the regular lineup.? Nathan Tyler (18), Josh Esler (16), Brian Prouty (16), Josh Wilks (15) and Pedro Oriol (15) all lead the team in that category.? Cumulatively, that group has shot par or better in 47.3 percent of its rounds played this season (80-of-169), and the quintet was 14-of-15 in that category during the West Regional.? Individually, Tyler leads the way with a 58.1 percent success rate of reaching or breaking par (18-of-31).

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Take Your Turn: ? UA head coach Rick LaRose said of his team earlier this season, ˇ?Weˇ?ve got a bunch of blue collar guys.ˇ± Thatˇ?s just the way theyˇ?ve performed this season ?C with no superstars.? In the 14 varsity stroke play events this season, a total of six different players have been the Wildcatsˇ? top finisher.? Pedro Oriol led with four, just ahead of Brian Prouty ˇ?s three.Nathan Tyler and Josh Wilks had two, while Josh Esler and Creighton Honeck had one each.

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Team Leaders: ? Brian Prouty took advantage of solid play in the spring to lead Arizona in a number of statistical categories:? scoring average (71.87), low round (62), and low tournament total (199/-14).? He and Nathan Tyler shared the team lead with three top-10 finishes, while Prouty and Josh Wilks each carded eight rounds in the 60s this year.? Tyler led the Cats with 18 rounds at par or better, while Josh Esler led all players with 40 rounds played.

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His Time to Shine: ? There must be something about the NCAA regional that appeals to Josh Esler .? Whatever the reason, the senior proved the ability to go low when the pressure is on.? In the 2006 and 2007 West Regionals, Esler was a combined 21 strokes under par.? The two lowest tournament tallies of his career are regional efforts and his career-low round of 66 was registered during the second round of this yearˇ?s event in Tempe.? That six-under score was paramount to UAˇ?s NCAA qualifying efforts, as the Cats jumped from 12th place after the first round to eighth after the second.

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Back At It: ? Tucson, Ariz., native Brian Prouty posted an eight-under 208 at the West Regional to tie for 31st place.? It was a solid effort that featured rounds of 70, 70 and 68, which marked the first time he notched three consecutive under-par rounds in an event since April 2-3.? The eight-under tally was a welcome sight, as Prouty was a combined six strokes over par in his previous four tournaments played.

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Best For Last: ? Senior Josh Wilks equaled the low round of his career in his final round played as a collegian.? His third-round 68 was the eighth round in the 60s for him this season, and also ensured that was Arizonaˇ?s top finisher at the 2007 NCAA Championships with a five-over 215 total.? His 68 was the low round of the Championships for the Cats and one of just three rounds at par or better for the squad.

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Strong Start: ? Left wrist surgery cost senior Brian Prouty to miss the entire fall season, but he certainly rebounded with a flourish.? He won his first event of the season ˇ? the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate on Jan. 30 ˇ? with a 14-under 199 total.? Perhaps the rehabilitation was worth it because Prouty registered a 62 (-9) in his first round back en route to an eventual four-stroke win.? He followed that up with a tie for fourth place at the John Burns Intercollegiate on Feb. 23 with an eight-under 208.? The red-hot start vaulted Prouty to the No. 1 ranking in the Golf Week/Sagarin Performance Index, the first UA menˇ?s golfer to achieve the feat.? He also earned Pac-10 Golfer-of-the-Month honors for February 2007.? To date, Proutyˇ?s victory at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate is UAˇ?s only individual medalist honor of the season.? He had a 71.50 stroke average over his last 16 rounds played.

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Final Round Fury: ? Few Wildcats have shown the ability to close out tournaments as well as Josh Wilks .? In his 11 appearances this season, Wilks has a final-round stroke average of 70.64, which is easily the lowest on the team.? Of his eight rounds in the 60s this season, six came over the final 18 holes, including a 69 at the West Regional and a 68 at the NCAA Championships.? The senior from Tucson, Ariz., has extended that to his overall play of late, as he averaged 72.16 strokes over his last 19 rounds played.

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Count On Him: ? Senior Nathan Tyler quietly has become the Wildcatsˇ? most consistent performer.? In the 10 spring events, Tyler ranked as the UAˇ?s top or second-best finisher in five of those outings.? A season-low 211 (-5) total at the West Regional extended to four his string of tournaments under par, which was the longest such streak on the squad.? Over the last five events of the season, Tyler posted a 71.19 scoring average.

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Break Out: ? Pedro Oriol respond to the pressure of postseason play, as he carded an 11-under 205? to tie for 14th place at the NCAA Regional, which was his best placing since March.? On the season, he has five top-20 finishes, including a pair of top-10 efforts, to tie for the team lead in that category.? Earlier this spring, the Madrid, Spain, product enjoyed a three-tournament run that saw him finish fourth, third and 11th.? His 11-under effort at the regional was easily the lowest tournament total of the season for the freshman, and his final-round 66 was his low round of the year.? Oriol followed that with a solid outing at the NCAA Championships, posting a six-over 216 total.

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On the Leaderboard: ? Arizonaˇ?s quintet of golfers has done well in terms of top-10 and top-20 finishes this season.? Nathan Tyler and Brian Prouty shared the team lead with three top-10 efforts, while Tyler, Josh Esler and Pedro Oriol each had a total of five top-20 finishes.? Josh Wilks was one behind with four.? Of the 29 top-20 finishes recorded by Wildcat golfers this season, 19 of those were posted by that regular lineup.

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Remarkably Consistent: ? Now in his 29th year as the Arizona mentor, Rick LaRose has proven himself to be an elite-level coach with 21 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances.? LaRose took over the program in 1979 and needed eight seasons to earn his first NCAA Championship appearance.? But following that first berth in 1987, heˇ?s been back every year since.? He has more consecutive appearances in this event than any head coach in the 2007 field.

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Steady Improvement: ? Not counting freshman Pedro Oriol , the four veteran members of the regular UA lineup each registered significant improvement in their individual scoring averages this year when compared to their career marks entering 2006-07.? Josh Wilks led the way with a 2006-07 scoring average that was 2.05 strokes better than his career scoring average (72.62/74.67).? Nathan Tyler followed with a 1.81-stroke improvement (71.97/73.78), while Brian Prouty finished 1.46 strokes better (71.87/73.33).? Josh Esler ˇ?s improvement was 0.58 strokes (73.03/73.61).

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A Fixture: ? Josh Esler led the Wildcats with 40 rounds played in 2006-07.? That team-leading figure pushed his career total of competitive rounds played to 158, a figure that is tied for 12th place on the Arizona career list.

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