Men's Golf Release
Jan. 28, 2004
On the Tee: The Wildcats open spring competition by hosting the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate, Feb. 2-3, at Arizona National Country Club at Sabino Springs ... It is the first of three home events for UA this spring ... Arizona hopes to have as much success this spring as in 2003 when the club won four tournaments, including the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate ... UA posted just two top-10 finishes in five team events this fall ... Will Arizona's youth continue to show signs of improvement? That's a key question for the spring, as the Wildcat lineup could be made up of three freshmen, a junior and a senior.
The Rankings: The Wildcats opened the 2003-04 season ranked in the top 20 in all three major college golf polls, and were ranked 18th in the Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll and 22nd in the Golf World Coaches Poll at the close of fall play. After five team events, UA checks in at No. 47 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Individually, senior Chris Nallen is ranked 25th individually on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the highest-ranked Wildcat.
A Look at the 2004 PING-Arizona Intercollegiate: The PING-Arizona Intercollegiate will be held Monday-Tuesday, Feb. 2-3, (practice round Feb. 1) at Arizona National in Tucson, Ariz., a par 71, 6,793-yard layout. Fifty-four holes will be played over the two days with 36 slated for Monday and 18 on Tuesday with an 8 a.m. MST shotgun start scheduled for both days. Fifteen teams are scheduled to compete: Arizona State, California, California-Irvine, Colorado, Fresno State, Long Beach State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oregon, Pepperdine, Texas-El Paso, USC, Wake Forest, and host Arizona (two squads). Five of the 15 teams in the tournament lineup are ranked in the current (Nov. 28) Golf World Coaches Poll: No. 7 Arizona State, No. 14 California, No. 15 Wake Forest, No. 19 New Mexico, No. 21 USC and No. 22 Arizona. Arizona won this event last season with a 23-under-par 829 team total. Texas-El Paso's Chris Baryla captured individual medalist honors with a 68-66-69=203 (-10) total.
The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. EventsChris Nallen Sr. 70.57 2/2 62 5Henry Liaw Fr. 74.91 0/0 70 4Josh Esler Fr. 74.82 0/0 68 4Nathan Tyler Fr. 74.78 1/0 66 3Nathan Lashley Jr. 74.18 0/0 68 4
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: Chris Nallen played 54 holes of bogey-free golf to card a three-round total of 196, capturing medalist honors Nov. 24 at the 2003 Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic at the El Paso Country Club. Nallen entered the final round at 13-under par and added four more birdies on Tuesday to finish the tournament at 17-under, tying the tournament record held by former Arizona teammate Ricky Barnes, who carded a 196 to capture the 2000 Golf Classic title. Nallen also became the first golfer in the 29-year history of the tournament to win the Titleist Longest Drive Contest, the Ping Putting Contest and medalist honors. His six-stroke victory is the largest margin of victory since Utah State's Jay Don Blake won by six strokes over Oral Roberts' Joe Rassett in 1980. 'This is probably the best golf I have played ever,' said Nallen. 'Being put in Ricky's company is great.'
Last Year at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate: Arizona posted a final round eight-under-par total to capture the 2003 PING-Arizona Intercollegiate. Bolstered by four players in top 19 places, UA carded a final round 276 (-8) to post a three-round 829 (-23) and win the event by two strokes over UCLA (831). The Cats' closing charge erased UCLA's two-stroke lead entering the final 18 holes. The win was Arizona's first team title since April 2001, when the Wildcats captured the U.S. Intercollegiate in Palo Alto, Calif. Arizona's total of 23 strokes under par equaled the eighth-best finish in relation to par in school history. Chris Nallen led the way for Arizona, as the junior shot a final round 69 (-2) to finish in second place individually with a 204 (-9) total. He finished one stroke behind UTEP's Chris Baryla, who captured individual medalist honors with a three-round total of 203 (-10). All told, four or Arizona's five varsity golfers in the event posted a final round total at par or better. Nallen was one of four UA golfers to finish in the top 20.
Arizona Individuals Team Finish2. Chris Nallen 67-68-69=204 (-9) 1. ARIZONA 829T3. Ricky Barnes 71-66-68=205 (-8) 2. UCLA 831T10. Reid Hatley 65-74-71=210 (-3) 3. Pepperdine 840T19. Andrew Medley 73-71-68=212 (-1) 4. USC 845T42. Blaine Peffley 73-72-71=216 (+3) 5. Wake Forest 846Arizona JV T8. ARIZONA JV 851T10. Kipp Riehle 69-69-72=210 (-3)T15. Nick Juszczak 73-70-68=211 (-2)T33. Brian Woolf 68-76-70=214 (+1)T61. Nathan Lashley 75-72-74=221 (+8)T72. Zack Amole 75-71-78=224 (+11)
Record-Setting Effort: In winning the Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic by the widest margin in 23 years, senior Chris Nallen took an eraser to the UA record book. Nallen's 66-63-67=196 (-17) tally equaled the low 54-hole aggregate total and total in relation to par originally set by Ricky Barnes at the same event in 2000. Additionally, Nallen's second-round 63 (-8) tied for third place as the low 18-hole aggregate and in relation to par, and hie 36-hole aggregate (129/-13) was the best in school history.
Mr. 58: Just nine days after setting those records in El Paso, Texas, Chris Nallen registered another record worth noting. He established a new course record at Arizona National (Arizona's home course) on Dec. 3 with a 13-under-par 58 (eagle, 11 birdies, 6 pars).
Previous PING Experience: Just two players in the probable UA lineup have previous competitive experience at Arizona National and the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate, senior Chris Nallen and junior Nathan Lashley. That duo has combined for a 71.33 stroke average in 15 career rounds played with two top-five finishes.
Chris Nallen (70.11 stroke average)
Date Scores FinishFeb, 3-4, 2003 67-68-69=204 (-9) 2Feb. 4-5, 2002 70-66-77=209 (-4) T5Jan. 29-30, 2001 78-70-70=218 (+5) T25
Nathan Lashley (73.17)Date Scores FinishFeb, 3-4, 2003 75-72-74=221 (+8) T61Feb. 4-5, 2002 73-70-75=218 (+5) T42
Saving the Best for Last: Redshirt freshman Nathan Tyler played steadily in three fall tournaments, compiling a 74.78 stroke average over the nine rounds played. He did, however, save his best golf for the final outing, a 75-66-70=211 (-2) Nov. 6-7 at the Del Walker Intercollegiate in Long Beach, Calif. Not only was the two-under 211 UA's third-lowest tournament total of the fall, but it was the Cats' third top-10 finish of the season. Tyler's second-round 66 was one of Arizona's eight rounds in the 60s this fall.
Showing Improvement: Through five fall events (counting the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship), junior Nathan Lashley ranks fifth on the team with a 74.18 stroke average. But Lashley's play has improved in his last two stroke-play appearances. In those two events, the Scottsbluff, Neb., product has posted a 72.83 stroke average, including his career-low round of 68 (Oct. 16) at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.
Learning as He Goes: Freshman Josh Esler, quickly established himself as a fixture in the UA lineup, as he holds the distinction of being one of two freshmen to see action in all five varsity events to date. Despite struggling with the putter in the fall, the Wauconda, Ill., native posted a respectable 74.82 stroke average in his 11 rounds played.
Breaking In: The youth included in the UA roster certainly is no secret. Forty of the 79 rounds played to date (50.6 percent) by Arizona this season have been completed by players in their first season of action. That won't change this week either as freshmen could take up as many as six slots on the UA varsity and junior varsity lineup. During the fall, those first-year players combined for a 74.90 stroke average in those 40 rounds played.
Adjusting: Freshman Henry Liaw continues to make the adjustment to college golf. The 2001 United States Junior Amateur Champion carded a five-over 218 total, which was his low through four events, including a first- and second-round 70. His 74.91 stroke average ranks seventh on the squad and he is one of four players, including two freshmen, to see action in all five varsity team events in 2003-04.
This is Much Better: Just how much better was the play for the Wildcats at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate (the last team scoring event of the fall)? Individually, UA golfers registered eight rounds at par of better for the tournament, including four rounds in the 60s. That nearly doubled the team total for the season (nine entering that event). It was also the team's first rounds in the 60s during the fall.
Nice Round: Chris Nallen closed his appearance at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate Oct. 14 with a nine-under His 62 was just the second such score recorded in Arizona golf history and the lowest in relation to par in school history. Nallen's round included seven birdies and an eagle-3 on the 16th hole. Robert Gamez recorded an eight-under 62 at the 1989 NCAA Championships, on a par-70 layout. Nallen's eight-under 205 total was also the 11th lowest 54-hole aggregate total in school history.