Strong Field Awaits Ducks at Thunderbird Invitational

April 11, 2002

EUGENE, Ore. - Four of the top 10 teams in the country - No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Texas, No. 8 Texas Christian and No. 9 USC - will join Oregon for the ASU Thunderbird/SAVANE Invitational. Teams with play 32 holes Friday and 18 Saturday on the 7,037-yard, par 72 Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz.

'Every year, this tournament has one of the strongest fields in the country, and this year is no exception,' said Oregon head coach Steve Nosler. 'It will give us an indication of how we stack up against some of the better teams in the West.'

Other top 25 opponents include No. 11 Washington, No. 17 Oklahoma, No. 22 New Mexico, No. 24 Pepperdine and No. 25 Arizona. Host Arizona State, which has won 10 of the last 13 Thunderbird Invitationals, Brigham Young, Houston, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA round out the 15-team field. Oregon is No. 33 in this week's Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

The Ducks will send the same five golfers who have produced three straight top six finishes, including a first at the Oregon Duck Invitational March 25-26 and a second at the Cleveland Southwest Invitational March 4-5. Senior Aaron Byers will be at the No. 1 spot with a 72.3 strokes per round average. He will be joined by juniors Chris Carnahan (73.7 spr) and John Ellis (72.8 spr), senior Brandon Harnden (74.0 spr) and sophomore Mike Sica (75.3 spr). Senior Chris Heniff (77.1 spr) will compete as an individual.

'We took a step back in our last tournament ,' said Nosler about his team's final round fall from second to sixth Tuesday at the Western Intercollegiate. 'But I think we'll come back. I'm not sure what the problem was, but overall, we've been playing pretty solid golf. Hopefully, we'll be able to make a few minor adjustments and get back on track.'

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