Men's Golf Season-In-Review
June 25, 2009
In the Clubhouse: Arizona capped the 2008-09 season at the NCAA Championships for the 22nd time in the last 23 seasons ... Along the way, the Wildcats posted six top-five finishes in 13 varsity events, including three runner-up efforts ... The highlight of the year came at the NCAA Southeast Regional where Tarquin MacManus captured individual medalist honors and led UA to a tie for second place as a team... MacManus earned a slew of postseason accolades, including All-America, all-West region and all-Pac-10 honors.
The Rankings: The Wildcats closed the 2008-09 campaign ranked 38th in the final (May 31) Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and were receiving votes in the most recent (May 13) Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll. Individually, sophomore Tarquin MacManus was the top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 52 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, which places him in the nation's top five percent of the more than 1,500 golfers ranked. Rich Saferian was next up at No. 210.
The Arizona Lineup:Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. RoundsTarquin MacManus So. 72.35 5/2 63 40Tyler Neal Sr. 74.38 5/1 67 40Rich Saferian So. 73.36 1/2 66 28Jonathan Khan So. 73.80 1/1 68 40Philip Bagdade Fr. 74.38 3/2 67 42
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . completed his 31st 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 a combined eight NCAA Regionals, five Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles. In NCAA Championship play, he also has six third-place finishes, a fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit. Since 1978, his men's teams have won 59 tournaments and produced 47 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 Andy Barnes.
Last Time Out: The University of Arizona's 2008-09 men's golf season came to a close with a 30th-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Men's Golf Championships in Toledo, Ohio. Arizona posted its low round of the tournament in the final round, a 13-over 297, to finish the event with a three-round total of 909 (+57). The Cats were one of six teams to finish the stroke play portion of the event May 29, as darkness pushed the teams off the course a day earlier.Oklahoma State finished the 54 holes with a three-under total of 849, the only team to finish stroke play under par. North Carolina State's Matt Hill earned individual medalist honors with a six-under 207 total. He topped the 156-man field by two strokes. Leading the way for the Wildcats individually was sophomore Jonathan Khan, who finished in a tie for 89th place at 12-over par. His final round 72 (+1) was UA's low round of the Championships. Sophomore Tarquin MacManus finished in a tie for 96th place at 13-over 226, one stroke ahead of teammate Rich Saferian, who tied for 104th place at 14-over 226. Senior Tyler Neal tied for 143rd place at 21-over 234, while freshman Philip Bagdade tied for 151st place at 23-over-par 236 tally.
NCAA Championship History: By securing a berth in the 2009 NCAA Men's Golf Championships, Arizona earned the 26th appearance in the event and its 22nd in the last 23 seasons. The Wildcats made its first NCAA Championship appearance in 1941 and since then have collected one national championship (1992) and 11 additional top-10 finishes. Of those top-10 efforts, four have been third-place finishes.
No Easy Task: Winning a national championship is no easy feat, but advancing to the Championships itself might be the most challenging aspect of the postseason. Arizona was one of 11 teams ranked outside of the top 25 of the May 17 Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index to advance to the 2009 NCAA Championships, which means that six top-25 teams failed to advance as far. Traditionally, Arizona has a stellar track record in NCAA regional action. Since the regional format was introduced in 1989, Rick LaRose has successfully advanced his team to the NCAA Championships every year (20 total) that the Wildcats have been invited to participate.
Among the Elite: According to NCAA championship records, Arizona is one of only six programs in NCAA history to register 20 or more consecutive appearances in the Division I Men's Golf Championships since 1939. The Cats join Oklahoma State, Houston, Clemson, Stanford and North Texas as the only programs to accomplish the feat (see box on next page for more information). Of the six schools listed, Only Oklahoma State's streak is active.
All-America: Tarquin MacManus was named to the PING All-America team, as selected by the Golf Coaches Association of America. MacManus, a sophomore from Cairns, Queensland, Australia, was an honorable mention selection. He was one of 63 golfers to earn first-, second-, third-team or honorable mention honors. Additionally, MacManus was an all-West region selection by the GCAA. It is first time that MacManus has earned All-America kudos. He is Arizona's first All-American since 2006. MacManus' selection marks the 51st time in school history that a Wildcat golfer has earned All-America accolades.
All-Conference: A pair of University of Arizona men's golfers received all-Pac-10 honors in voting done by the conference's head coaches, the league announced May 1. Tarquin MacManus was a second-team pick, while Rich Saferian was tabbed honorable mention. For MacManus, it was the second consecutive season that he was a second-team selection. For Saferian, it was the first time he was recognized by the league. Their selections mark the 95th time that Wildcat golfers have earned all-Pac-10 honors since joining the conference in 1978-79.
All-Academic: Three University of Arizona men's golfers were named to the Pacific-10 Conference's all-Academic team. John Kostis, Tarquin MacManus and Nicholas Park were all honored by the league. Kostis was one of six student-athletes to earn first-team honors, while MacManus and Park received honorable mention kudos. To be eligible for selection to the Pac-10 all-Academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average and be either a starter or significant contributor. It marks the ninth consecutive year in which a Wildcat has been named to the all-Academic team, and the three honorees this season equals the most for the program since 1990.
Similar Features: Arizona's last three regional appearances have produced very similar results...and a lot of red numbers. In that span (2006, `07, `09), UA is a combined 96 strokes under par in regional action. The Wildcats posted a 23-under 829 tally at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Sorrento, Fla., May 14-16, to tie for second place. Arizona carded a 36-under 828 total at the 2007 West Regional in Tempe, Ariz. - the third-lowest tournament total in school history en route to a sixth-pace finish. In 2006, the Cats fired a 37-under 827 total, which equaled the lowest tournament total in school history, to tie for the West Regional crown with Florida in Tucson, Ariz.
A Race for Red Numbers: The Southeast Regional at Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla., turned into a race for birdies as UCF, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina each finished eight strokes ahead of the rest of the field. Over the course of 54 holes, Arizona ranked second in the event with 66 birdies or better, just behind host UCF's 74 and ahead of Georgia's 63 and South Carolina's 61. On the other hand, Arizona also tied for second when it came to fewest bogeys or others, as its 39 equaled South Carolina and trailed Georgia's 38. UCF managed 40 bogeys or others during the regional.
A Nice Time To Break Through: Sophomore Tarquin MacManus picked a nice time to collect his first collegiate victory - at the NCAA regional - where his 63-66-69=198 (-15) topped the field by two strokes. He had been close a few times previously this season with a runner-up finish at the Braveheart Classic in March and three other top-10 placings during the season, and was bolstered by that career-low 63 (-8) in the opening round. He becomes the sixth Arizona player to win a regional (see list below) and his aggregate total is the lowest for any Wildcat in regional play and equaled the lowest in relation to par.
As Good As Anyone: Few teams are as accomplished as Arizona when it comes to NCAA regional play, as the Wildcats have won the event six times as a team - 1989, `91, `92, `93, 2000, `06 - a figure that ranks second behind Clemson's and Oklahoma State's seven apiece. Based on Tarquin MacManus' efforts at the Southeast Regional, UA now has been just as successful in terms of individual medalists, as six Cats have won the regional: Robert Gamez, 1989 (206/-10); Harry Rudolph, 1992 (201/-15), Manny Zerman, 1993 (211/-5); Ricky Barnes, 2002 (210/-6), Chris Nallen, 2004 (211/-5) and Tarquin MacManus, 2009 (198/-15).
Growing Up as We Go Along: Arizona's NCAA Championship lineup featured one senior, three sophomores and a freshman and zero rounds of experience in NCAA Championship action. Of the 13 players on the Arizona roster, the low five stroke averages come from four sophomores and a freshman. Through 13 team events, underclassmen have been UA's top finisher 10 times. They have performed well, as the four underclassmen (MacManus, Saferian, Khan, Bagdade) have combined for a 73.49 stroke average, collected 10 top-10 finishes and posted 48 rounds at par or better.
Under Par: Four times in 2008-09 Arizona finished a tournament under par: 12-under 852 at the Wolf Pack Classic in October, 24-under 840 at the John Burns Intercollegiate in February, seven-under 857 at the National Invitational Tournament in March, and 23-under 829 at the NCAA Southeast Regional in May. All told, the Cats registered 13 under-par rounds as a team in 12 events with the lowest single round, 270 (-14), occurring May 14 at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
A Time for Improvement: The spring season was one of improvement for the Cats, as the squad posted four top-five finishes and saw its scoring average drop considerably. UA's countable stroke average fell by 1.86 strokes per round this spring when compared to the team's performance in the fall (74.43 fall/72.59 spring). Such an improvement certainly can have an impact on the team total, as the team's countable spring stroke average translates to an average of 290.36 strokes per round, a figure that is nearly 7.5 fewer strokes per round than its performance in the fall.
Good on Moving Day: Statistically speaking, the Wildcats are at their collective bests on college golf's 'Moving Day,' i.e. the second round, as the team's second-round scoring average of 289.54 is the lowest of the three rounds, just ahead of its 289.69 average in the first round. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Cats don't close as well, as witnessed by its 291.23 scoring average. In fact, Arizona has only had five final rounds at par or better in 13 tournaments this season, and in only six events was UA's final round tally its lowest of that tournament.
Count On Me: Of the five players who participated in the NCAA Championships, three of them (Tarquin MacManus, Tyler Neal, Jonathan Khan) played in all 40 varsity rounds, while another (Rich Saferian) played in all 28 spring rounds since gaining his eligibility. Here is who the Wildcats lean on when it comes to rounds counting towards the team total: MacManus 38 of 40 (.950), Saferian 24 of 28 (.857), Khan 31 of 40 (.775) and Neal 28 of 40 (.700). UA's fifth player, Philip Bagdade saw 11 of his 13 (.846) rounds count when he competed with the Arizona varsity.
Pulling the Cart: Sophomore Tarquin MacManus led the team with a 72.35 stroke average, a figure that drops to 71.19 in his last five events (16 rounds). The Cairns, Queensland, Australia, native has been UA's top finisher in seven of his 13 appearances, including a win and four additional top-10 and two top-20 finishes. His low round of 63 to open the Southeast Regional is the lowest for any UA player this year and tied for the fourth-lowest round in school history. UA head coach Rick LaRose always says that successful teams need a big horse in the No. 1 position to pull the cart, and with nine rounds in the 60s to his credit and a victory under his belt, perhaps MacManus has accepted the yoke of responsibility.
Closing Strong: Wixom, Mich., product Rich Saferian provided a nice boost this spring, collecting three top-20 finishes in nine starts to go with a 73.36 stroke average, which ranks second on the club. His best effort was a tie for third at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational with a two-under 211 total that included a final-round 66. Saferian was the 2007 national junior college champion at Scottsdale Community College. He tied for 49th place at the NCAA regional with a four-over 217 tally.
Mr. Consistency: Jonathan Khan definitely has been steady this year. The sophomore from Tucson, Ariz., played in every event, ranked second on the team with 15 rounds at par or better and third with a 73.80 stroke average. It's probably not coincidental that Khan's four lowest tournament totals came in Arizona's four best team finishes. His best finish of the season - a fourth place effort - came at the National Invitational Tournament after carding a 69-71-72=212 (-4).
Everything is Better: Senior Tyler Neal closed his career as a solid contributor for the Cats. He set career bests for appearances (13) and rounds played (40) in a single season, low round (67) and low tournament (206/-7). Neal's five top-10 finishes shared the team lead and easily topped his career total entering the season. The Tucson, Ariz., native carded 14 rounds at par or bettering 2008-09 and lowered his career stroke average to 74.55. Neal carded seven-under tallies at October's Wolf Pack Classic and the Southeast Regional, which were UA's third-best tournament totals this year.
Pleasant Surprise: It's safe to say that the play of Philip Bagdade has been the biggest surprise of the season. The Eugene, Ore., native led the team in appearances (14) and rounds played (42) and posted a respectable 74.38 stroke average. Bagdade ranks third on the team with three top-10 finishes and his tie for 19th place at the Southeast Regional (209/-4) included a first-round 67. Bagdade's stroke average as a freshman compares favorably to such Arizona notables and PGA Tour veterans as Jim Furyk (74.39/1989) and Rory Sabbatini (74.50/1995).
Open Participants: The University of Arizona had four alumni participate in the 2009 United States Open Championship. Ricky Barnes (1999-2003), Jim Furyk (1988-92), Rory Sabbatini (1994-98) and Nathan Tyler (2003-07) each participated in the event, June 18-22, at the Bethpage State Park Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. Barnes tied for second place at two-under 278, while Furyk tied for 33rd place at seven-over 287. Sabbatini and Tyler both missed the cut. Incidentally, Barnes' brother, Andy, an assistant coach at Arizona, served as his caddie during the Open.
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