On the Tee: Arizona opens play at the 2007 NCAA Championships, May 30-June 2, in Williamsburg, Va., and appears in the event for the 25th time and the 21st 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 24 previous NCAA Championship appearances, the Wildcats have one national championship (1992) and six top-five finishes.
The Rankings: The Wildcats are ranked 24th in the current (May 20) Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and are No. 23 in the may 16 Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll. Individually, senior Brian Prouty is top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 50 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Three other UA golfers are in the top 200.
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Rounds
Brian Prouty Sr. 71.82 3/0 62 28
Josh Esler Sr. 73.05 0/5 66 37
Nathan Tyler Sr. 71.96 3/2 67 28
Josh Wilks Sr. 72.71 2/2 68 31
Pedro Oriol Fr. 73.28 2/3 66 36
A Look at the 2007 NCAA Championships:
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 29th season at the helm of the
Last Time Out: The Wildcats posted a 17-under-par 271, the fourth-lowest round in school history, to finish in sixth place at the 2007 NCAA West Regional at Karsten Golf Course in
The Wildcats’ final-round efforts were led by freshman Pedro Oriol, who collected seven birdies on the way to a career-low 66. The
Josh Esler continued his run of stellar play in NCAA Regional action as he tied for 14th place at 11-under 205. Over the last two seasons, the senior from
Brian Prouty finished three strokes behind at eight-under 208 to tie for 31st place. Prouty carded a four-under 68 in the final round. Nathan Tyler tied for 43rd place at five-under 211, while Josh Wilks tied for 76th place at one-under 215. Wilks’ third-round 69 included five birdies.
Last Year at the NCAA Championships: The
Junior Josh Esler’s two-under 70 was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats, who posted its highest single-round total of the tournament on Saturday. The NCAA Championship appearance was the 20th consecutive for the Wildcats, the second-longest active streak in the country.
Esler’s 70 gave him a 72-hole total of six-over 294, which tied him for 48th place. He was the highest-finishing Wildcat in the event.
Ben Fox finished tied for 66th place at 10-over 298. Fox carded a four-over 76 during the final round.
T48. Josh Esler.................... 76-71-77-70=294 (+6) 1.
T50. Henry Liaw.................. 76-73-71-75=295 (+7) 2.
T50. Brian Prouty................. 74-71-73-77=295 (+7) 3.
T50. Travis Esway............... 74-68-73-80=295 (+7)
T66. Ben Fox........................ 72-76-74-76=298 (+10) 5.
Select Six: According to championship records,
Tougher Than It Looks: As mentioned above,
When It Counts: The Wildcats’ 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 this year that all five UA players finished a tournament under par. The Wildcats’ 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 have come 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.
Another Scoring Note: En route to the 36-under total at the West Regional,
Not That Far: The Wildcats close the 2006-07 campaign in
Distance Can Be a Factor: On the surface, traveling across time zones might seem to be problematic. The Wildcats seem to enjoy long journeys to close the season. Since the turn of the century, four NCAA Championships have been played in the Eastern Time Zone (2001, ?'02, ?'04, ?'05). UA has an average finish of eighth in those events, including a pair of third-place efforts. In the three other years where the championships were held in another time zone (2000, ?'03, ?'06),
All-Conference: Seniors Brian Prouty and Nathan Tyler were recognized with all-Pac-10 honors in voting done by the league’s head men’s golf coaches. Prouty was a second team selection, while
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 will be in action this week. Nathan Tyler (17), Josh Esler (16), Brian Prouty (15), Josh Wilks (14) and Pedro Oriol (14) all lead the team in that category. Cumulatively, that group has shot par or better in 49.4 percent of its rounds played this season (76 of 154), and the quintet was 14-of-15 in that category during the West Regional. Individually,
Take Your Turn: UA head coach Rick LaRose said of his team earlier this season, “We’ve got a bunch of blue collar guys.” That’s just the way they’ve performed this season ?- with no superstars. In the 13 varsity stroke play events this season, a total of six different players have been the Wildcats’ top finisher. Pedro Oriol leads with four, just ahead of Brian Prouty’s three. Nathan Tyler has two, while Josh Wilks, Josh Esler and Creighton Honeck have one each.
His Time to Shine: There must be something about the NCAA regional that appeals to Josh Esler. Whatever the reason, the senior has proven the ability to go low when the pressure is on. In the 2006 and 2007 West Regionals, Esler is a combined 21 strokes under par. His two lowest tournament tallies are regional efforts and his career-low round of 66 was registered during the second round of this year’s event in
It (Nearly) All Rides With Him: While UA’s lineup may feature four seniors, it does not have a lot of NCAA Championship experience. All told,
Back At It:
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 ?- the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate on Jan. 30 ?- 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 men’s golfer to achieve the feat. He also earned Pac-10 Golfer-of-the-Month honors for February 2007. To date, Prouty’s victory at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate is UA’s only individual medalist honor of the season. He has a 71.38 stroke average over his last 13 rounds played.
Final Round Fury: Few Wildcats have shown the ability to close out tournaments as well as Josh Wilks. In his 10 appearances this season, Wilks has a final-round stroke average of 70.90, which is the lowest on the team. Of his six rounds in the 60s this season, four have come over the final 18 holes, including a 69 at the West Regional. The senior from
Count On Him: Senior Nathan Tyler quietly has become the Wildcats’ most consistent performer. After carding a season-low 211 (-5) total at the West Regional, it extended to four his string of tournaments under par, which is the longest such streak on the squad. In that span,
Break Out: Pedro Oriol seemed to 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
On the Leaderboard:
Remarkably Consistent: Now in his 29th year as the