Sica's Hole-in-One Helps Duck Golfers Advance to NCAA Championships

May 17, 2003

AUBURN, Wash. -- The Oregon men's golf team spun its third straight 7-over -- thanks to Chris Carnahan's 70 and Mike Sica's hole-in-one -- and hit the jackpot. The Ducks finished tied for ninth, edging Texas-El Paso by one stroke, Saturday at the NCAA West Regional to earn an automatic berth to the May 28-31 NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Okla.

'Sometimes, three-of-a-kind wins,' said Oregon coach Steve Nosler. 'We could have made it a little easier on ourselves, but that's the way it goes. We're going and that's the important part.'

It will be Oregon's first trip to the national championships since 1999. The Ducks, seeded 18th for the West Regional, were the lowest seed to advance to Stillwater.

Carnahan, a senior from Albany, Ore., had the hot hand early with birdies on No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6 at the 7,183-yard, par-72 Washington National Golf Course. He cooled with bogeys on eight and nine, but then rolled in seven straight pars before draining what turned out to be the decisive birdie on the 543-yard, par 5 17th. After an opening round 80 on Thursday, Carnahan came back strong to finish 72-70 and tie for 36th at 222, his highest finish in four NCAA Regionals.

Carnahan's birdie on 17 brought the Ducks' composite score for the round back to 7-over, and then the rest of Oregon's three counting players parred the final two holes to give the Ducks a 295 for the third straight day. Oregon could then only watch as UTEP, playing in the group behind the Ducks, mounted a charge with two birdies on 17 to pull within one of Oregon, but the Miners did not get the birdie they needed on 18 that would have forced a playoff.

Duck junior Mike Sica had the shot of the tournament, acing the 204-yard, par-3 eighth for his first hole-in-one as a collegian. The junior from San Francisco, Calif., finished at even par Saturday, but got there with an ace, three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey. He finished the tournament tied for 49th at 223.

Senior captain John Ellis was Oregon's most consistent golfer with his third straight 73. The San Jose, Calif., native was the Ducks' highest finisher, tying for 22nd at 3-over 219, which was also his highest finish in a Regional. Ellis had two birdies, three bogeys and 13 pars Saturday. Oregon also counted an 80 from redshirt freshman Kyle Johnson. The North Bend, Ore., native struggled with six bogeys and a double bogey, but parred his final four holes to help the Ducks hang on to the top 10. Freshman Gregg LaVoie had an 82 for Saturday's throwaway score.

'The guys are as excited as could be,' said Nosler. 'We counted at least two rounds from all five guys so everybody contributed to us getting to nationals. We may not have played great, but we fought hard every round and I couldn't be prouder of these guys.'

UCLA staved off hard-charging Arizona to win the Regional. The Bruins 5-over 293 Saturday gave UCLA an 864 three-round total that was one stroke better than Arizona's 865, despite the Wildcats' 3-under 285 final round effort. Nevada-Las Vegas and Georgia tied for third at 871, while Arizona State and New Mexico tied for fifth at 879. Washington and USC tied for seventh at 880 and Oregon and San Diego State tied for ninth at 885 to round out the 10 NCAA Championships qualifiers. Just missing a bid were UTEP at 886 and UC Irvine at 889.

Pepperdine's Michael Putnam shot a course record 8-under 64 Saturday to finish second overall at 6-under 210. Second round leader Michael Letzig of New Mexico held on for the win at 8-under 208 after taking a 71 Saturday. Defending U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes of Arizona was third at 211, while the Wildcats' Chris Nallen was third at 4-under 212.

NCAA West Regional
Washington National Course
Auburn, Wash.
Final Round
7,183-Yard, Par-72
Top 10 Teams Advance to NCAA Championships May 28-31 at Stillwater, Okla.

TEAM SCORES - 1, UCLA, 291-280-293-864. 2, Arizona, 295-285-285-865. 3 (tie), Nevada-Las Vegas, 296-289-286-871; Georgia, 297-289-285-871. 5 (tie), Arizona State, 299-288-292-879; New Mexico, 294-289-296-879. 7 (tie), Washington 308-286-286-880; USC 304-289-287-880. 9 (tie), Oregon, 295-295-295-885; San Diego State, 302-292-291-885. 11, Texas-El Paso, 300-298-288-886. 12, UC Irvine, 300-293-296-889. 13, Pepperdine, 299-307-291-897. 14, Oregon State, 304-300-296-900. 15 (tie), Stanford, 316-298-287-901; Denver, 295-300-306-901; Old Dominion, 302-303-296-901. 18, Fresno State, 302-303-300-905. 19, Colorado State, 306-298-304-908. 20, Brigham Young, 317-299-300-916. 21, California, 301-306-310-917. 22, Xavier, 308-308-303-919. 23, Navy, 318-301-307-925. 24, Austin Peay, 312-314-306-932. 25, Oral Roberts, 319-310-311-940. 26, Central Connecticut State, 330-310-309-949. 27, Loyola (Md.), 332-327-319-978.

OREGON FINISHERS - 22 (tie), John Ellis, 73-73-73-219. 36 (tie), Chris Carnahan, 80-72-70-222. 49 (tie), Mike Sica, 75-76-72-223. 76 (tie), Gregg LaVoie, 72-74-82-228. 111 (tie), Kyle Johnson, 75-80-80-235.

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