Men's Golf Seeks First Bid to NCAA Championships Since 1999
May 15, 2002
EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon men's golf team begins pursuit of its first NCAA Championships bid since 1999 Thursday at the NCAA West Regional, which will be played on the 7,368-yard, par 72 South Champions Course in Albuquerque, N.M. The top 10 teams and two individuals will advance to the NCAA Championships May 29-June 1 in Columbus, Ohio.
'We're not going down there thinking about tenth place, we're thinking about winning,' said Oregon coach Steve Nosler. 'If we're in first, we know we're going to nationals, but if we fall a bit short of that, then hopefully we're still somewhere in the top 10.'
The Ducks are the 11th seed and will be paired with No. 10 Nevada and No. 12 Ohio State for Thursday's first round and Friday's second round. Oregon will start the tournament going off the back nine at 12:18 p.m. Thursday, followed by an 8:15 a.m. start off No. 1 on Friday. Saturday's final round pairings will be based on team standings after the first two rounds.
'We haven't played at New Mexico in a few years, but I've seen it when the wind is really blowing and the course plays extremely long and I've also seen it when there is no wind, and if that's the case, it will be a shootout,' said Nosler. 'We really won't know what to expect until we get down there and we'll have to adjust accordingly.'
Four of the Ducks' five golfers have season stroke averages within two of par and Oregon has nine top six finishes in 12 tournaments this year, including six straight dating to the beginning of March. Most recently, Oregon finished fifth at the Pac-10 championships April 25-27.
Senior Aaron Byers from Albany, Ore., leads the Ducks with a 72.4 stoke average, while John Ellis, a junior from San Jose, Calif., is right behind at 72.6. Junior Chris Carnahan, another Albany, Ore., native, is third at 73.2. Portland's Brandon Harnden, a senior captain, is fourth at 73.6 and Mike Sica, a sophomore from San Francisco, Calif., is fifth at 75.3.
Pac-10 champion USC is the West's No. 1 seed, followed by Texas, Minnesota, Fresno State, Washington, New Mexico, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Arizona and Nevada to round out the top 10. Ohio State followed Oregon in the second 10, with UCLA, Washington State, UC Irvine, Pacific, Nevada-Las Vegas, Stanford, Arizona State and Texas Tech filling out spots 12 though 20. The rest of the 27-team field, in order, includes California, Brigham Young, Colorado State, Illinois State, Detroit, IUPUI and Central Connecticut State.
Oregon last played in Albuquerque at the 1998 NCAA Championships. That team, which featured last week's Byron Nelson Classic runner-up Ben Crane, finished tied for 27th and did not make the second round cut.