Men's Golf Release - Windon Memorial Classic
Oct. 3, 2003
On the Tee: Suburban Chicago is the destination as the Arizona men's golf team looks to improve following a subpar start to the season ... The Cats will compete at the 2003 Windon Memorial Classic, Oct. 6-7, in Glenview, Ill. ... In its two previous outings this fall, Arizona's best finish is a tie for eighth place, while the squad has yet to post a team total at par or better.
The Rankings: The Wildcats opened the 2003-04 season ranked in the top 20 in all three major college golf polls, and is currently ranked 14th in the most recent (Sept. 24) Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll and 16th in the (Sept. 10) Golfworld Coaches Poll. After two events, UA checks in at No. 59 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Individually, senior Chris Nallen is ranked fourth among Golfweek magazine's '50 College Players to Watch' list, marking the third consecutive season in which he has made the list.
A Look at the 2003 Windon Memorial Classic: The Windon Memorial Classic will be held Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 6-7, at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill., a par 72, 7,031-yard layout. Now in its 10th year, the tournament is hosted by Northwestern University. Thirty-six holes will be played Monday and 18 Tuesday with an 8:30 a.m. CDT shotgun start scheduled for Monday and an 8 a.m. shotgun start on Tuesday. Seventeen teams are scheduled to compete: Arizona, California, UC Davis, Illinois, Kent State, Louisiana State, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Florida, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Rice, SMU, Stanford and Toledo. Two members of the field are ranked in the top 20 of the current Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll (Arizona/Oklahoma State).
The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. EventsChris Nallen Sr. 73.60 0/1 71 2Henry Liaw Fr. 74.60 0/0 71 2Josh Esler Fr. 74.40 0/0 72 2Nathan Lashley Jr. 75.80 0/0 73 2Nathan Tyler Fr. 77.67 0/0 77 1
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 26th 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 41 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, 2003. He is assisted by John Knauer.
Last Time Out: The University of Arizona men's golf team shot a 22-over-par 302 Sept. 23 to finish in 13th place at The Preview by Ping and Golfweek in Hot Springs, Va. The Wildcats struggled in the final round, as no UA golfer shot better than five-over 75 in the final 18 holes. Arizona's 22-over 302 total dropped the team seven spots on the leaderboard to finish in 13th place with a 35-over-par 595 total. Over the course of the 36-hole event, no Arizona golfer broke par. UCLA won the 15-team event with a 12-over 572, one stroke ahead of Georgia. Clemson and Florida tied for third place with matching 575 (+15) totals. The event was shortened to 36 holes after rain forced the cancellation of the second round. Freshman Josh Esler was the top-finishing Wildcat, as he tied for 34th place with a 147 (+7) total. Esler's finish and score in relation to par were both career bests for the Wauconda, Ill., product. He was the only UA golfer to finish in the top half of the field of 75. UCLA's John Poucher captured individual medalist honors with a two-under 138 total. Also competing for Arizona was senior Chris Nallen and junior Nick Juszczak, who each tied for 42nd place at 149 (+9), freshman Henry Liaw, who tied for 47th place at 150 (+10), and junior Nathan Lashley, who tied for 69th place at 154 (+14).
The Unquestioned Leader: Not only does senior Chris Nallen posses a great deal of talent, but he also has added the additional responsibilities of team leader in 2003-04. It is a fitting and well-earned title. The three-time All-American has a 71.74 (second all-time at Arizona) career stroke average, two career victories and 17 top-10 finishes. Seventy-three of his 129 career rounds played have been at par or better (30 in the 60s) and 81 of his last 86 rounds played (94 percent) have counted toward the team total. His 129 career rounds played is nearly double that of the rest of the Wildcat lineup combined (68).
Gotta Get Better: While the expectations still remain high, Arizona's results to date have been anything but excellent. Heading into Monday's rounds, Arizona has yet to equal par in any of the five rounds played to date, while its 1,483 stroke total this season is a combined 59 shots over par. UA's countable stroke average, which was a record-low 72.47 last season, has jumped to 74.15 so far in 2003-04. Individually, Arizona golfers have managed to post a score at par or better in only six of 31 rounds this year. In fact, UA has more rounds at five-over or worse (14) than at par or better.
Stepping Up: Freshman Josh Esler led Arizona in its last outing with a tie for 34th place at The Preview by Ping and Golfweek. His seven-over-par 147 made him the only Wildcat to finish in the top half of the field of 74. In five rounds played in his brief collegiate career (two events). Esler has a 74.40 stroke average. If you throw out a second-round 81 at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate to open the season, that average drops to 72.75.
Gaining Experience: One wouldn't traditionally expect freshmen to hold down a majority of the spots in the lineup, as is currently the case for the Wildcats. But it's become commonplace for Arizona. Over the last five seasons has UA had more than one senior in the starting five only once: 2002-03. Interestingly, it was the only time during that span that the team did not finish in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships.
Close to Home: UA's appearance at the 2003 Windon Memorial Classic gives Josh Esler a chance to play close to home. Esler, a native of Wauconda, Ill., will compete at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill., just 21 miles from home. Esler's father, Mark, is the head PGA teaching professional at Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove, Ill.
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