On the Tee: Arizona opens play at the 2006 NCAA Championships, May 31-June 3, in Sunriver, Ore., and appears in the event for the 20th consecutive season ... Arizona is one of only two schools nationally to qualify for the national championships in every season since the regional format was adopted in 1989 ... In 23 previous NCAA Championship appearances, the Wildcats have one national championship (1992) and six top-five finishes.
The Rankings: The Wildcats opened the 2005-06 season ranked 22nd nationally and are currently ranked 16th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and 25th in the current (April 27) Bridgestone/GCAA Coaches Poll. Individually, junior Henry Liaw is the top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 49 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Classmate Josh Esler comes next at No. 121.
A Look at the 2006 NCAA NCAA Championships: The
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Henry Liaw Jr. 71.70 4/3 66 14
Brian Prouty Jr. 73.03 2/1 67 10
Ben Fox Fr. 72.10 2/3 67 10
Josh Esler Jr. 72.91 1/4 68 12
Travis Esway So. 73.32 0/0 69 12
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 28th season at the helm of the
Last Time Out:
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,
The regional win was the sixth NCAA regional crown for
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.
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
Last Year at the NCAA Championships:
UA’s 27-over-par 307 effort left the team in 17th place with a three-round total of 885 (+45), which means the Wildcats missed the 54-hole cut by two strokes. It was UA’s highest single-round team total at the Championships since a final-round 311 (+23) in 2003. It also marked
Senior Nathan Lashley finished the 72 holes with a 10-over par 290. It was his first appearance at the Championships. He won the right to play in the final round as one of six individuals by claiming one of two remaining spots in a three-man playoff prior to Saturday’s final round.
Lashley’s 290 total put him in a tie for 27th place.
T27. Nathan Lashley 71-71-75-73=290 (+10) 1.
T74. Josh Esler........... 71-76-77=224 (+14) 2. Georgia Tech.............. 1146
T85. Travis Esway....... 68-75-82=225 (+15) 3.
T85. Brian Prouty........ 72-75-78=225 (+15) 4. Brigham Young........... 1154
T97. Henry Liaw.......... 74-75-77=226 (+16) 5.
Kudos for Knauer: Assistant coach
Two at Twenty:
Select Six: According to championship records,
Cat Tracks at Crosswater:
A Record-Setting Effort: When
Will It Germinate?: Is there a team that helped itself more during regionals with it’s seeding at nationals than
In the Red: Arizona’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 ?- Feb. 22-24 at the John Burns Intercollegiate and April 8-9 at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational were the others. UA played the final 36 holes of the regional at 28-under par, a figure that led the 27-team field. Additionally, Arizona’s final-round 275 at the regional was its second-lowest, final-round tally of the year, topped only by a 272 April 9 at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational (though both were 13-under-par figures). Not surprisingly, both efforts led the Wildcats to first-place finishes.
Clutch: By the time Josh Esler stepped to the tee on the 17th hole during the final round of the West Regional on May 20, he knew his team trailed
Following Suit: As mentioned above,
Can It Continue?: OK, let’s be honest. While some may have thought that
Five Under Par: Led by Josh Esler’s career-best, 10-under 206 total at the West Regional, all five Wildcats posted sub-par tournament totals for just the second time this season (John Burns Intercollegiate. In addition to Esler, Ben Fox’s nine-under 207 was also a career low tournament total.
All-Conference Picks: Three
Academic Pursuits: Junior Brian Prouty and sophomore Trey Denton were recognized with inclusion on the Pac-10 men’s golf all-Academic team. Prouty was a second team selection, while
We’ve Seen This Before, But Only Once: Settling on a lineup has been difficult for the Wildcat coaching staff because so many players have seen action. Over the course of 12 stroke play events this season a total of 11 different players have made up the UA varsity lineup. In fact,
The Ex(perience) Factor: UA golf fans can hope that experience won’t be too big of a factor when the NCAA Championships begin on May 31 because the Wildcat lineups features a total of 20 rounds of NCAA Championship experience, and 60 percent of that resides with two players (Henry Liaw and Josh Esler, seven each).
Show Us the Way: Junior Henry Liaw is the most experienced Wildcat with 119 rounds played in his two-plus seasons in
A Stabilizing Factor: Practically a fixture in the lineup since his freshman season, junior Josh Esler is enjoying the best statistical season of his career with a 72.91 stroke average to go with five top-20 finishes (two more than his first two seasons combined) and a career-best nine rounds in the 60s. Furthermore, he’s tied for second on the team with 15 rounds at par or better.
Making a Charge: Freshman Ben Fox makes his fourth appearance with the UA varsity as part of the countable lineup at the NCAA Championships. The Studio City, Calif., product has done well to earn the spot, as he ranks second on the team with a 72.10 stroke average and has been within two strokes of par or better in seven of nine tournaments this season. In seven spring events, Fox’s stroke average falls to 71.38, a figure that leads the team since the calendar changed to 2006. Fox carries a 70.69 stroke average over his last 13 rounds played.
Good Timing: Tucson native Brian Prouty is enjoying a solid statistical season in which he has amassed career bests in appearances (10), rounds played (30) top-10 finishes (2), low tournament (205/-8), rounds at par or better (13) and low finish (third). In 30 rounds played this season, he has a respectable 73.03 stroke average, but that mark falls to 70.69 over his last 13 rounds played.
And He’s Not Even Playing This Year: Sophomore Tyler Neal earned a spot in the sectional qualifier for the 2006 United States Open Championship after shooting a one-under 71 May 22 at Tucson Country Club to claim one of six spots in the sectional qualifier, which will be held June 5 at Columbine Country Club in Littleton, Colo. Neal is sitting out the 2005-06 season as a redshirt, but posted a 74.61 stroke average in six events as a freshman. Six of his 18 rounds played in 2004-05 were at par or better, including a low round of 69. Six former Wildcats played in the 2005 U.S. Open.
A Solid Finish: Under head coach Rick LaRose,