Sica Eagles 18 and Shoots 73, but Ducks Struggle at NCAA Championships

May 27, 2003

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Mike Sica continued his strong play this spring with an eagle on No. 18, but the Oregon men's golf team struggled and was tied for last after the first round of the NCAA Championships, played Tuesday at the 7,301-yard, par-72 Karsten Creek Golf Course.

Sica shot a 1-over 73 and was tied for 13th place. Chris Carnahan was the only other Duck under 80, shooting a 4-over 76, and was tied for 44th.

Oregon, playing in the NCAA Championships for the first time in four years, was 35 strokes over par and finished the day at 323 and tied with San Diego State at the bottom of the 30-team field.

'I'm very disappointed and I know the guys are very disappointed,' said Oregon coach Steve Nosler. 'It is a very difficult course, but I think we are capable of a more reasonable score in relation to par.'

Par was a very good score indeed on Tuesday as there were only four golfers lower than 72, including Auburn's Lee Williams, who led the tournament at 3-under 69.

Sica, a junior from San Francisco, Calif., who had a hole-in-one during the final round of the NCAA West Regional two weeks ago, rolled in a 25-foot put for an eagle on the 584-yard, par-5 18th. He was 235 yards out following his drive and then took a five wood to the green to set up the long eagle.

'I was hitting the ball really well today,' said Sica, who also had birdies on No. 2 and No. 11. 'I just didn't score that well, but I guess a 73 isn't too bad. I made some puts that I normally wouldn't and then I missed some that I should have made, so I guess it all evens out.

'This is by far the hardest course that I've ever played and as a team, we had some problems out there,' said Sica. 'You just can't miss the fairway because the rough is so long and it's very difficult to recover from. Tomorrow, we need to go out there and concentrate on putting the ball in the right position both off the tee and with our approach shots to the green.'

Carnahan, a senior from Albany, Ore., was a stroke under par through 15 holes after birdies on No. 1, 5 and 14, but got stuck in a deep green-side bunker on the par-3 200-yard seventh, his 16th hole of the day after starting on the back nine, and took three strokes to escape. He settled for a quadruple bogey on the hole. He also bogeyed No. 8 before parring his last hole of the day for his 76.

The high rough and fast greens caused problems for Oregon's freshmen. Gregg LaVoie was 14-over, while North Bend's Kyle Johnson was 16 over. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the 92 from Oregon's top golfer, senior John Ellis, who lacked the words to describe his troubles in the first round. 'I can't explain it,' he said. 'But I never gave up. I was trying hard to the end. I guess it was just one of those days that everyone eventually has. I just wish mine didn't have to be today.' It was his worst round as a collegian.

'We can't go home and cry in our pillows,' said Nosler. 'I think we can learn from what happened today and we'll just have to suck it up and improve over the next three days.'

The Ducks begin the second round Wednesday at 11:03 a.m. Pacific (1:03 p.m. Central). Oregon will begin the round within striking distance of Tennessee and Vanderbilt, tied for 27th at 320, as well as Nevada-Las Vegas (313), South Carolina (313), Arkansas (314), Washington (314), Georgia (315) and Southern Methodist (316).

Four teams were tied for the lead at plus-11 after the first round, including host Oklahoma State. The other three at 299 were North Carolina State, Clemson and Auburn.

NCAA Championships
Karsten Creek Golf Course
Stillwater, Okla.
First Round
7,301-Yard, Par-72

TEAM SCORES - 1 (tie), Oklahoma State, 299; North Carolina State, 299; Clemson, 299; Auburn, 299. 5 (tie), USC, 300; Duke, 300. 7, Florida, 302. 8, UCLA, 303. 9 (tie), Wake Forest, 304; Illinois, 304. 11, Minnesota, 305. 12 (tie), Arizona State, 306; Texas, 306. 14, Arizona, 307. 15 (tie), Wichita State, 308; North Carolina, 308. 17 (tie), Kentucky, 309; New Mexico, 309. 19, Georgia Tech, 310. 20, Augusta State, 311. 21 (tie), Nevada-Las Vegas, 313; South Carolina, 313. 23 (tie), Arkansas, 314; Washington, 314. 25, Georgia, 315. 26, Southern Methodist, 316. 27 (tie), Vanderbilt, 320; Tennessee, 320. 29 (tie), Oregon, 323; San Diego State, 323.

OREGON FINISHERS - 13 (tie), Mike Sica, 37-36-73. 44 (tie), Chris Carnahan, 39-37-76. 142 (tie), Gregg LaVoie, 41-45-86. 152 (tie), Kyle Johnson, 47-41-88. 155 (tie), John Ellis, 47-45-92.

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