May 7, 2003
On the Tee: Fresh off its best finish at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships in nine years, Arizona heads into NCAA Regional competition for the 15th consecutive season ... The Wildcats are one of only six programs nationally to have appeared in every NCAA Regional since 1989 ... This will be Arizona's first appearance at Washington National Golf Course.
The Rankings: The Wildcats remain ranked in the top 10 in all three major college golf polls. Arizona is ranked third in the current (April 9) Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll, , sixth in the (May 6) Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and seventh in the (April 11) Golfworld Coaches Poll. Four UA golfers rank in the top 140 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, including two in the top 11: Ricky Barnes (10th) and Chris Nallen (11th). Golfweek also tabbed Barnes, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, as the nation's fourth-ranked collegiate player and included junior Nallen in its "50 College Players to Watch" list.
A Look at the 2003 NCAA West Regional: The University of Washington hosts the 2003 NCAA West Regional, May 15-17. Fifty-four holes of stroke play will be played over three days at Washington National Golf Course in Auburn, Wash., a par-72, 7,183-yard layout. Tee times begin at 7:12 a.m. PDT each day off the No. 1 and No. 10 tees. Of the 27 teams scheduled to compete, 12 are conference champions. Here is the field listed by seed: UCLA (1), UNLV (2), Arizona (3), Georgia (4), Arizona State (5), Washington (6), New Mexico (7), USC (8), Pepperdine (9), San Diego State (10), California (11), Fresno State (12), UC-Irvine (13), Brigham Young (14), Colorado State (15), Texas-El Paso (16), Denver (17), Oregon (18), Austin Peay (19), Stanford (20), Oregon State (21), Old Dominion (22), Xavier (23), Oral Roberts (24), Navy (25), Central Connecticut State (26), and Loyola, Md. (27). Six individuals make up the rest of the 141-man field, and include: Matt Hansen (Pacific), Brendan Steele (Cal State Riverside), Travis Bertoni (Cal Poly), Issac Weintraub (San Jose State), Pete Sisich (Cal State Northridge) and Graham DeLaet (Boise State). The top 10 teams and two individuals will advance to the 106th NCAA Championships, May 27-30, in Stillwater, Okla.
The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events Ricky Barnes Sr. 71.61 7/1 66 11 Chris Nallen Jr. 71.39 8/3 66 13 Andrew Medley Sr. 72.82 1/2 67 7 Reid Hatley Sr. 73.52 2/2 65 12 Brian Woolf Sr. 73.86 1/1 68 9
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 25th season at the helm of the Arizona golf program, and in that span has established the Wildcats as one of the nation's elite programs. 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 51 tournaments and produced 39 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. He is assisted by John Knauer.
Last Time Out: Arizona carded a two-over-par 362 total April 30 to finish in second place at the 2003 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Golf Championships. Arizona collected its best finish at the league championships since 1994 by posting a four-round total of 1,466 (+26). Bolstered by two players finishing below par, Arizona's final-round tally was its lowest round of the championships. The Wildcats finished 27 strokes behind tournament-winner UCLA, who posted a four-round total of 1,439 (-1). Individually, three Wildcats finished in the top 20, led by Ricky Barnes. The senior carded a three-under 69 to finish in a tie for fourth place overall. Barnes completed the event with a even-par 288 and collected his fourth consecutive top-10 finish at the Pac-10 Championships. Junior Chris Nallen continued his run of solid play by finishing in a tie for 12th place. Nallen posted a one-under 71, his lone sub-par round of the tournament, to finish with a four-round tally of 291 (+3). It was his 11th top-20 placing in 12 scoring events this season. Senior Andrew Medley carded a final-round, one-over 73, and finished in 17th place at 295 (+7).
2002 NCAA West Regional Review: Arizona qualified for its 16th straight trip to the NCAA Men's Golf Championships as the team finished tied for sixth place at the NCAA West Regional at the University of New Mexico's Championship Course. Ricky Barnes became the fourth golfer in Arizona history to win medalist honors at the NCAA Regional as he tied for first place with Justin Smith of Minnesota at 6-under-par for the tournament. Barnes drained three birdies on the back nine to card a final-round of 1-over-par 73. Barnes and Smith, who shared the individual championship, completed the tournament four strokes ahead of their nearest competitor. Chris Nallen was Arizona's second-best finisher as he tied for 51st place at 7-over-par 223. He closed the tournament with a 3-over 75. Andrew Medley collected a top-20 finish as well, placing 17th with a seven-over-par 295 total.
A Cinderella Story: For 72 holes during the second week of April, Ricky Barnes stood toe-to-toe with golf's greatest players at its most prestigious event and did not back down in finishing in 21st place April 13 at the 67th annual Masters Tournament. The senior from Stockton, Calif., posted a final-round 73 (+1) to finish with a four-round 69-74-75-73=291 (+3). He finished 10 strokes behind eventual winner Mike Weir, who needed a one-hole sudden death playoff to defeat Len Mattiace, at 281 (-7). One of three amateurs to make the 36-hole cut, Barnes' 291 total qualified him as the low-finishing amateur. Ultimately, his 291 total was one stroke away from qualifying for the 2004 Masters, as the top 16 finishers plus ties automatically qualify for next year's event. That exemption included players at 290 (+2) or better.
The Big Show: Barnes' finish at The Masters was no fluke. It was his fourth career appearance in a professional tour event (2000 and 2002 U.S. Open), and his second this season. On March 2, Barnes tallied a final-round 70 to finish in a tie for 18th place at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. He carded a 69-70-68-70=277 (-11) to earn his first career PGA Tour top-20 finish. Incidentally, Barnes has a 72.83 stroke average in those four PGA Tour appearances (12 rounds).
Hall of Famer: University of Arizona director of golf Rick LaRose was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 22. Joining LaRose in the Class of 2002 is UNLV head coach Dwaine Knight. The duo was officially inducted at the GCAA's National Awards Dinner at the Sheraton World Resort in Orlando, Fla. To be selected to the GCAA Hall of Fame, a coach must be nominated by his peers, and then selected by the Hall of Fame Committee. Knight and LaRose were the 70th and 71st members of the GCAA Hall of Fame, which honors a coach for his record on the golf course, as well as his contributions to the game, student-athletes and school.
Ben Hogan Award Finalist: Ricky Barnes was named one of five finalists for the 2003 Ben Hogan Award, which is presented annually to the top NCAA Division I, II, III, or NAIA golfer. The award covers all collegiate and amateur competitions during the last 12 months. Other finalists include Bill Haas (Wake Forest), Hunter Mahan (Oklahoma State), West Regional participant Ryan Moore (UNLV), and D.J. Trahan (Clemson). The award is presented by The Friends of Golf and Colonial Country Club, in cooperation with Bank of America and the Golf Coaches Association of America. The winner will be announced on May 9 and presented May 19 at Colonial Country Club.
All-Pac-10: Four members of the University of Arizona men's golf team were recognized May 1 with all-Pacific-10 Conference honors in voting done by the league's head coaches. Highlighting the announcement was Ricky Barnes' selection as the 2003 Golfer of the Year. Barnes, Reid Hatley, Andrew Medley and Chris Nallen each earned all-conference honors. Barnes and Nallen were selected to the first team, while Hatley and Medley garnered honorable mention accolades. UA golfers have earned such recognition 79 times since joining the league in 1978-79. It was Barnes' second Pac-10 Golfer of the Year award. He also shared the award in 2001.
NCAA Regional History: As mentioned earlier, Arizona is one of only six schools nationally (Arizona, Arizona State, Clemson, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, and UNLV) to appear in all 15 NCAA Regionals since the NCAA adopted the format in 1989. Additionally, UA is one of only three schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Clemson) to win the event five times. In 14 previous NCAA Regional appearances, Arizona's average finish is 3.43. Individually, four Wildcats have taken home individual medalist honors, most recently by Ricky Barnes in 2002.
Hot Spring: All told, Arizona collected eight top-three finishes in 12 team events this season. The Wildcats have really heated up this spring, as the club has won four of seven events. The four tournament victories in 2002-03 is as many as the program tallied in the previous three seasons combined. It is also the most wins in a single season since the 1991-92 edition of the Wildcats won six tournaments en route to the 1992 national championship.
Low Numbers: In addition to four tournament wins, the statistics certainly point to some solid numbers. In seven spring events, Arizona has posted below-par team totals in 13 of 22 rounds (59.1 percent) played. The team's spring countable stroke average (71.50) is 1.52 strokes lower than it was in four scoring events this fall (73.02), which leads to an improvement of 6.08 team strokes per round. Along the way, three of the Cats' tournament totals rank among the 10 lowest on record, including the 23-under-par 829 that won the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate on Feb. 4. Overall, Arizona's stroke average ranks seventh among all NCAA Division I programs and its current 71.99 countable stroke average is the lowest in school history.
Finds College to His Liking: Even though he has a pair of top-25 finishes this season on the PGA Tour, Ricky Barnes has had his share of success on the college level. In his last three collegiate appearances (10 rounds), Barnes is averaging 71.00 strokes per round and has three top-four finishes. In fact his finishes at the Oregon Duck Invitational (3rd), National Invitational Tournament (T2nd) and the Pac-10 Championships (T4th) are his top three finishes of the season. Four of his eight rounds in the 60s this season have come in his last three appearances.
Not to be Outdone: Junior Chris Nallen has been nothing short of outstanding since his arrival in Tucson back in the fall of 2000. The Blairstown, N.J., native currently leads the Wildcats in events played (13), rounds played (36), stroke average (71.39), top-10 finishes (8), rounds in the 60s (11) and rounds at par or better (25). He has been UA's top finisher in seven events this season and his 11-under 205 total at the ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational April 12 equaled the eighth lowest total in school history. Just how good is he? Nallen's 71.56 career stroke average is the second lowest in UA history.
Welcome Aboard: Maybe it's just coincidence, but since senior Andrew Medley joined the squad at the start of the spring, the team has started to roll. The mid-year transfer from the University of Mississippi has been a welcome addition to the lineup. In seven appearances, Medley has one top-10 and two top-20 finishes to his credit to go with a 72.82 stroke average, a figure that ranks third on the squad. He was under par in his first two tournaments and tied for fifth place April 1 at the National Invitational Tournament.
Mr. Consistency: Senior Reid Hatley has been the model of consistency, posting a 73.23 career stroke average. That's 0.27 lower than his stroke average this spring (73.50). Eight of his 12 rounds at par or better in 2002-03 have come this spring, including four of his five rounds in the 60s. Not entirely coincidence, Hatley has a 73.22 stroke average in three previous NCAA West Regional appearances.
Early Signees: Arizona men's golf coach Rick LaRose signed three student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent during the November signing period. The trio, will attend the school and play golf for the Wildcats beginning in the fall of 2003, includes Henry Liaw of Rowland Heights, Calif., Ben Marsh of Phoenix, Ariz., and Josh Esler of Wauconda, Ill.