Resurgent Ducks Shoot Second-Best Round of the Day at NCAA Championships

May 28, 2003

STILLWATER, Okla. -- The University of Oregon used the second-best round of the day -- a 12-over 300 -- to rocket up the leaderboard to 20th place at the midway point of the 2003 NCAA Championships, Wednesday at the 7,301-yard, par-72 Karsten Creek Golf Course.

One day after being tied for last 35 strokes over par at 323, the Ducks used four scores in the 70s to tally a 300 Wednesday. Junior Mike Sica and senior John Ellis both shot 74, freshman Gregg LaVoie had a 75 and freshman Kyle Johnson, from North Bend, Ore., carded a 77.

'We played really hard today,' said Oregon coach Steve Nosler, whose team improved 23 strokes over the first day. 'Before the round, we thought that three straight rounds of 300 was a good goal to shoot for and to go out and get that done today is quite an accomplishment. If we go out and do that two more times, we could be looking at a very respectable finish.'

Oregon's two-round total of 47-over 623 was tied with New Mexico for 20th as the Ducks passed nearly a third of the field on Wednesday. Oregon got by San Diego State (plus-74), South Carolina (plus-86), Arkansas (plus-64), Southern Methodist (plus-59), Vanderbilt (plus-57), Kentucky (plus-56), Tennessee (plus-54), Duke (plus-50) and Illinois (plus-48). The move up the standings was significant as it put the Ducks in position to try for their best finish at the NCAA Tournament in 25 years -- since the 1978 squad took 11th.

Individually, Sica remained in contention with a 2-over day that left him tied for fourth overall at 3-over 147. The San Francisco, Calif., native had birdies on No. 2 and No. 3. His birdie on the par-3 third was the result of a 30-foot downhill put that slowly gained momentum, banked to the left and dropped into the center of the cup.

'I left a few shots out there today, but I'm still hitting the ball really well,' said Sica, who bogeyed No. 1, 7, 13 and 14. 'I made a mental mistake that cost me a stroke on 14, but overall, I'm still pretty happy.'

Ellis had the biggest improvement on his first round score of any golfer in the field, dropping 18 strokes from his opening round 92. His two-round total of 22-over 166 was still well down the field -- tied for 135th -- but the senior captain was pleased with both the individual and team effort on Wednesday.

'I thought we played pretty well,' said Ellis, who had three birdies and five bogeys. 'I'm ecstatic that we were able to shoot 12-over. To comeback and play that way after the first round is pretty remarkable. There are a lot of big driving holes that can be kind of intimidating so now that we've seen them a few times, I think we're getting more comfortable.

'I did a much better job of managing my game today,' he said. 'I still wouldn't say I had my best game out there and it's frustrating for me not to be in contention individually, but it really means something to be able to help the team out.'

Oregon's freshmen were markedly better Wednesday as both dropped 11 strokes off their first round score. LaVoie was tied for 111th at 147, while Johnson was tied for 132nd at 165. Only senior Chris Carnahan, who shot an 88, had trouble staying out of the rough Wednesday. He was tied for 127th at 164.

UCLA had the best round of the day, a 7-over 295, to take the team lead by a stroke at 22-over 598. Host Oklahoma State was next at 599, but the Pac-10 flexed its muscle Wednesday with five teams in the top 12 including UCLA, USC in seventh at 35-over, Arizona State and Washington tied for ninth at plus-38 and Arizona 12th at plus-39.

Auburn's Lee Williams was the only player under par at 3-below and led the tournament by three strokes over Oklahoma State's Hunter Mahan. North Carolina State's Jason Moon was at 1-over while Sica and seven others were 3-over.

Oregon, playing in the NCAA Championships for the first time in four years, will tee off Thursday morning at 5:45 a.m. Pacific (7:45 a.m. Central) and will be paired with Georgia and New Mexico.

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

TEAM SCORES - 1, UCLA, 303-295-598. 2, Oklahoma State, 299-300-599. 3, Clemson, 299-302-601. 4 (tie), Florida, 302-300-602; Auburn, 299-303-602. 6, Wake Forest, 304-306-610. 7, USC, 300-311-611. 8, Nevada-Las Vegas, 313-300-613. 9 (tie), Minnesota, 305-309-614; Arizona State, 306-308-614; Washington, 314-300-614. 12, Arizona, 307-308-615. 13 (tie), Georgia Tech, 310-306-616; North Carolina, 308-308-616; North Carolina State, 299-317-616. 16 (tie), Augusta State, 311-306-617; Wichita State, 308-309-617. 18, Texas, 306-314-620. 19, Georgia, 315-306-621. 20 (tie), Oregon, 323-300-623; New Mexico, 309-314-623. 22, Illinois, 304-320-624. 23, Duke, 300-326-626. 24, Tennessee, 320-310-630. 25, Kentucky, 309-323-632. 26, Vanderbilt, 320-313-633. 27, Southern Methodist, 316-319-635. 28, Arkansas, 314-326-640. 29, South Carolina, 313-331-644. 30, San Diego State, 323-327-650.

TOP 10 - 1, Lee Williams, Auburn, 69-72-141. 2, Hunter Mahan, Oklahoma State, 73-71-144. 3, Jason Moon, North Carolina State, 72-73-145. 4 (tie), Mike Sica, Oregon, 73-74-147; Alejandro Canizares, Arizona State, 77-70-147; David Denham, Georgia, 74-73-147; Jason Hartwick, Texas, 77-70-147; John Merrick, UCLA, 75-72-147; Ryan Moore, Nevada-Las Vegas, 76-71-147; Matthew Rosenfeld, Texas, 71-76-147; Chris Stroud, Lamar, 70-77-147.

OREGON FINISHERS - 4 (tie), Mike Sica, 73-74-147. 111 (tie), Gregg LaVoie, 86-75-161. 127 (tie), Chris Carnahan, 76-88-164. 132 (tie), Kyle Johnson, 88-77-165. 135 (tie), John Ellis, 92-74-166.

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