June 18, 2013
The University of Arizona men's golf team capped off its spring season with an appearance in the NCAA Tempe Regional for the 26th time in the last 27 years. Although the Wildcats did not qualify for the NCAA Championships, there was a bright spot at the NCAA Tempe Regional as the Cats posted their lowest team score of the season with a second round of a 276 (-4).
The Wildcats finished in the top-five in three of the 10 tournaments they competed in. They finished in fifth at the Arizona Intercollegiate, finished in a tie for fourth at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate and in fifth at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic. The lowest score to par in the spring was at the NIT, which took place at the Omni Tucson National Golf Course in Tucson, Ariz. The Cats finished with a score of 864 (E) and finished in sixth place, which included a 277 (-11) in the first round of the tournament. Arizona finished the year with a 305.50 team stroke average per round, and a countable individual stroke average of 73.32 for the year.
"Our spring season was up and down," head coach Jim Anderson said. "Things happened where we felt like our team was going in the right direction. We play in the best conference in the country, and we know that it could be a really long week at the Pac-12 Championships if you don't play your best. I think we did a good job of competing at the Pac-12 Championships, but we do need to improve. We played one really good round at the Regional, but unfortunately there is not a lot of room for average or poor golf."
Erik Oja was the Wildcats leader on the golf course this year. Including the fall season, Oja led Arizona in events played (14), stroke average (72.83), top-10 finishes (4), had the lowest round of any player (66), the lowest tournament score (210/-6), and rounds at or under par (15). Oja has one more year of eligibility for the Wildcats, so they will be looking to him for leadership on and off the golf course next year as well.
"Erik Oja has been a leader of the team on the golf course," Anderson said. "He possesses the physical tools to play this game at a high level, so we look forward to his leadership next year."
When talking about Trent Redfern, you cannot help but notice the improvement he has made from his freshman year up to his senior year. He finished his sophomore year with a 76.57 stroke average, and his senior year, he finished with a 73.60 stroke average, a three stroke improvement. Redfern finished the year second on the team in rounds at or under par with 14. The senior had 15 rounds at or under par in his entire career before this season.
"I was impressed with Trent Redfern," Anderson said. "He was one of our steadiest players all year, and as a golf coach, you like knowing what you are going to get. Our team voted and Trent Redfern won the most improved player, and I think he is very deserving of this award."
The Wildcats relied on seniors Redfern and Juan Pablo Hernandez all year long, looking to them for leadership on and off the golf course.
"Trent and Juan Pablo Hernandez are like many other former Wildcat golfers as they are going to be ambassadors for Wildcat golf. It was a different situation for them because they went through a coaching change in the middle of their career, but they embraced, and at the end of the year they can look back knowing they had a great career."
Even though the 2012-13 season is over, no one is taking any time off. The coaching staff has been working on how the team will look next year along with recruiting. Some of the players will be participating in golf tournaments around the world.
"During the summer we will be out recruiting looking to piece together our team for the future," Anderson said. "Some of the guys on the team are out competing right now as well. A number of guys are going to play in some national events over the summer and>Erik Oja is playing for the Swedish National Team. The guys are not taking any time off so they will be ready when they get back."
There were definitely some bright spots in the 2012-13 season, but there is always room for improvement. The team also had four players on the Pac-12 All-Academic teams. Alex McMahon and>Erik Oja were first-team selections, Trent Redfern was a second-team pick, and Benson Liu earned honorable mention. The Wildcats will come in starting in the fall of the 2013-14 season ready to go, looking to continue the historic tradition of Arizona men's golf.