Arizona Men's Golf Release
Sept. 11, 2003
On the Tee: No. 11 Arizona opens its 67th season of intercollegiate golf competition at the 49th annual William H. Tucker in Albuquerque, N.M. ... It marks the Wildcats' 25th appearance in the event in the last 26 seasons (1998) ... UA has won the event three times (1987, '90, '91) and finished in the top three eight times since 1978 ... The Cats start anew following its 17th straight appearance at the NCAA Men's Golf Championships.
The Rankings: The Wildcats open the 2003-04 season ranked in the top 20 in both major college golf polls. Arizona is ranked 11th in the current (Sept. 10) Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll and 16th in the (Sept. 10) Golfworld Coaches Poll. For the third consecutive season, senior Chris Nallen is ranked fourth among Golfweek magazine's '50 College Players to Watch' list.
A Look at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate: The 49th annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate will be held Friday-Saturday, Sept. 12-13, at the University of New Mexico's Championship Course, a par 72, 7,354-yard layout. It is the nation's second-oldest college golf tournament. Thirty-six holes will be played Friday and 18 Saturday with a 7:30 a.m. MDT start each day. Twenty teams are scheduled to compete: Air Force, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, BYU, Colorado, Colorado State, Hawaii, UNLV, host New Mexico, New Mexico junior varsity, New Mexico State, North Carolina State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Texas-El Paso, Texas Tech and Toledo. Five members of the field are ranked in the current Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll (Arizona, Arizona State, UNLV, New Mexico and North Carolina State).
The Probable Arizona Lineup (2002-03 statistics):
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. EventsChris Nallen Sr. 71.74 9/3 66 15Henry Liaw Fr. first collegiate tournamentNathan Lashley Jr. 74.83 0/1 70 8Josh Esler Fr. first collegiate tournamentNathan Tyler Fr. first collegiate tournamentNick Juszczak * Jr. 74.39 1/1 68 6Kipp Riehle * Jr. 74.52 1/3 68 8* scheduled to compete as individuals
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . begins 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: Arizona shot a final-round 311 to finish in 17th place at the 2003 NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Okla. The Cats posted a 23-over-par total and finished the 72-hole event with a 1,229 (+77) total. UA's final-round tally was its worst round of the 2002-03 season and led to the team's worst finish at the NCAA Championships since 1999. It marked just the second time this season that Arizona had failed to finish in the top 10. Individually, Ricky Barnes became the first golfer in Arizona history to post four consecutive top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships. The senior from Stockton, Calif., shot a final-round, one-over-par 73 and finished tied for sixth place at 292 (+4). Barnes, the only Wildcat to break par in the event, collected three birdies and 11 pars over the final round. Junior Chris Nallen was the only other Wildcat player to finish in the top half of the field. The Blairstown, N.J., native shot a three-over 75 to tied for 35th place at 303 (+15). Prior to the 2003 event, Nallen had finished at par or better in five of eight career NCAA Championship rounds.
2002 William H. Tucker Review: Arizona shot a final round 299 (+11) and could not make up ground on the leaders in posting a third place finish at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. The fourth-ranked Wildcats finished the 54-hole event in third place with a team total of 874 (+10). High scores were the order of the day, as just one team in the field of 18 managed to card a total at par or better. Tournament host New Mexico won the event with an even-par 864. Individually, two Wildcats placed in the top 10, led by Ricky Barnes. The senior from Stockton, Calif., shot a final round 74 (+2) to finish in a tie for third place at 214 (-2). Barnes, who won the 2002 NCAA West Regional on the same course, was a combined eight-under-par over his last six rounds at New Mexico's Championship Course.
Arizona Individuals Team Finish T3. Ricky Barnes 71-69-74=214 (-2) 1. New Mexico 864 T9. Chris Nallen 71-71-74=216 (E) 2. UNLV 869T14. Andy Connell * 70-73-75=218 (+2) 3. Arizona 874T31. Reid Hatley 70-76-76=222 (+6) 4. San Diego State 875T49. Nathan Lashley * 74-80-71=225 (+9) 5. Texas Tech 876T49. Blaine Peffley 75-75-75=225 (+9)T70. Kipp Riehle 72-77-82=231 (+11)
The Unquestioned Leader: Senior Chris Nallen heads into the 2003-04 season as Arizona's unquestioned leader. It is a fitting title. The three-time All-American has a 71.67 (second all-time at Arizona) career stroke average, two career victories and 17 top-10 finishes. Seventy-two of his 124 career rounds played have been at par or better (30 in the 60s) and 76 of his last 81 rounds played (95 percent) have counted toward the team total. His 124 career rounds played is nearly as many as the rest of the Wildcat lineup (155).
International Flavor: Chris Nallen represented the United States in the 39th Walker Cup Matches, Sept. 6-7, at Ganton Golf Club in North Yorkshire, England. Nallen went 1-1 in his two-match appearance at the Walker Cup, winning his singles match, 2-up, over Great Britain & Ireland's Colm Moriarity and losing a foursome match, along with Ryan Moore, 3 and 2, to GB&I's Nigel Edwards and Stuart Manley. GB&I retained the cup with a 12 1/2-11 1/2. Nallen was the fourth University of Arizona golfer to represent the United States in Walker Cup competition, joining Robert Gamez (1989), Eric Meeks (1989) and David Berganio (1991).
A Productive Summer: Nallen's Walker Cup appearance capped a busy, but productive summer for Chris Nallen. The senior from Blairstown, N.J., native won the 2003 Northeast Amateur title on June 22 in sudden death after carding a four-under 203 total. He also finished fifth at the Dogwood Invitational on June 29 and played in the 2003 U.S. Amateur. Additionally, he went 2-2 as part of Team USA at the 2003 Palmer Cup Matches.
Not to Be Outdone: Junior Nathan Lashley also proved successful over the summer by advancing to the second round of match play at the 2003 U.S. Amateur Championship before losing to Matt Kohn (Longwood, Fla.), 1-up. The Scottsbluff, Neb., native tied for 33rd place in stroke play, carding a 71-75=146 (+6) and defeated Steve Conway (Irvine, Calif.), 2-up, in the first round of match play at Oakmont Country Club. He also posted a tie for 35th place at the Dogwood Invitational, June 29, after shooting a seven-over 78-73-72-72=295.
Prior Experience: Three Wildcats have previous William H. Tucker Intercollegiate experience, as Chris Nallen, Nathan Lashley and Kipp Riehle have combined to make seven appearances over the past three seasons. The trio has combined to average 73.57 strokes to go with four top-20 finishes. Nallen has three top-20 efforts to his credit at the Tucker with a tie for ninth place as his best in 2003. Junior Kipp Riehle posted a tie for sixth place in 2002, his best-ever finish as a collegian.
Replacing One USGA Champion With Another: He may not have the physical stature of departed Wildcat senior Ricky Barnes, but freshman Henry Liaw certainly has all of the golfing credentials. The 5-foot-10, 152-pound Liaw enters his first collegiate golf event with quite a resume. The native of Rowland Heights, Calif., won four junior world championships (1996, '98, '99 and 2000), was a two-time Southern California PGA Player of the Year, and won the 2001 United States Junior Amateur championship. His competitive career-low round is a 58.
Debuts: In addition to Liaw, two other Arizona golfers will be making their collegiate debuts this weekend at the Tucker Intercollegiate, as freshmen Josh Esler and Nathan Tyler are in the UA lineup. Esler a freshman from Wauconda, Ill., is the son of a PGA teaching professional, and Tyler, a redshirt freshman from Tucson, Ariz., was a three-time all-state selection and the 2001 Tucson prep Player of the Year.
Young, Very Young: That could be the thumbnail description of the 2003-03 Arizona men's golf team. With just one senior (Nallen) and 10 of the 14 players on the roster sophomores and younger, this year's Wildcats will have to learn on the fly. Aside from Chris Nallen, only one player (Nathan Lashley) in the UA starting five has any varsity experience. Of Lashley's 19 career appearances, only six have come as a member of the countable five. In those six appearances, Lashley has a 76.17 stroke average with a tie for 37th at the 2002 Tucker as his best finish.