Men's Golf Release
April 22, 2004
On the Tee: For the third time since joining the league in 1978-79, Arizona has the honor of hosting the Pacific-10 Conference's Men's Golf Championships ... The 45th edition of the men's golf championships will be held April 26-28 at The Gallery at Dove Mountain ... The Wildcats previously hosted the event in 1984 at Tucson Country Club and 1994 at Tucson National Golf Course ... UA heads into the championships with five first- or second-place finishes in six spring events.
The Rankings: The Wildcats opened the 2003-04 season ranked in the top 20 in all three major college golf polls, and are currently ranked eighth in the Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll and 13th in the Golf World Coaches Poll. After four team events this spring, UA checks in at No. 9 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Individually, senior Chris Nallen is ranked fifth nationally on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the highest-ranked Wildcat.
A Look at the 2004 Pac-10 Men's Golf Championships: Held annually each year since 1960, the Pac-10 Men's Golf Championships will be held Monday-Wednesday, April 26-28, (practice round April 25) at The Gallery at Dove Mountain, a par 72, 7,412-yard layout located just north of Tucson. Seventy-two holes will be played over the three days (36 Monday/18 Tuesday and Wednesday) with twosomes scheduled off the first and 10th tees beginning at 7 a.m. PDT Monday and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Ten teams are scheduled to compete: Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State, and host Arizona and six of those clubs are currently ranked in the Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll. Arguably the toughest test in all of college golf, each team will be made up of six players with the low five scores counting towards the team total in each round. UCLA won this event last season with a one-under-par 1,479 team total. UCLA's John Merrick captured individual medalist honors with a 74-70-69-63=276 (-12) tally.
The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. EventsChris Nallen Sr. 69.72 6/2 62 12Henry Liaw Fr. 71.93 3/3 64 11Nathan Lashley Jr. 72.72 1/1 67 11Josh Esler Fr. 73.97 0/0 68 11Nathan Tyler Fr. 73.30 2/2 66 9Mark Lamb Fr. 72.43 0/2 68 5
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 54 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 men's golf team posted the third lowest tournament total in school history and finished in second place at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. In an event where red numbers are almost commonplace over the par 72, 7,027-yard Karsten Course, Arizona carded a final-round 274 (-14) and finished the 54-hole event with an 832 (-32) team total, which was the third-lowest figure in school history. All told, 13 of the 16 teams in the field finished under par, while seven of UA's nine competitors in the 88-man field were also under par. Tournament-host Arizona State topped the 16-team field with a three-round tally of 821 (-43). The Wildcats have now won or finished second in five of six events this spring. Leading the way once again for Arizona was senior Chris Nallen, who carded a final-round 67 (-5) en route to his sixth top-10 finish of the season. The Hackettstown, N.J., native finished the two-day event with a 12-under 204 total and a tied for fourth place. Teammate Henry Liaw collected his sixth top-20 finish this spring with a three-round total of 212 (-4) and a tie for 20th place. He and Nallen were the only two members of the UA lineup to post three under-par rounds in the event. Junior Nathan Lashley used a season-low 67 (-5) to post Arizona's biggest move up the leaderboard in the final round. The Scottsbluff, Neb., product moved up 23 places today to finish in a tie for 28th place at 213 (-3). Freshman Josh Esler also tied for 28th place at 213, bolstered by a final-round 69. For Esler, it was his best tournament total of the season, while the 69 was his best tournament tally in 17 rounds dating back to Feb. 2. Nathan Tyler also tied for 34th place with a 214 (-2) total.
Last Year at the Pac-10 Championships: The University of Arizona men's golf team carded a two-over-par 362 total to finish in second place at the 2003 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Golf Championships in Glendale, Calif. Arizona collected its best finish at the league championships since 1994 by posting a four-round total of 1,466 (+26). Bolstered by two players finishing below par, Arizona's final-round tally was its lowest round of the championships. The Wildcats finished 27 strokes behind tournament-winner UCLA, who posted a four-round total of 1,439 (-1). Individually, three Wildcats finished in the top 20, led by Ricky Barnes. The senior carded a three-under 69 to finish in a tie for fourth place overall. Barnes completed the event with a even-par 288 and collected his fourth consecutive top-10 finish at the Pac-10 Championships. Junior Chris Nallen continued his run of solid play by finishing in a tie for 12th place. Nallen posted a one-under 71, his lone sub-par round of the tournament, to finish with a four-round tally of 291 (+3). It was his 11th top-20 placing in 12 scoring events this season. Senior Andrew Medley carded a one-over 73, and finished in 17th place at 295 (+7).
Arizona Individuals Team FinishT4. Ricky Barnes 71-73-75-69=288 (E) 1. UCLA 1,439T12. Chris Nallen 75-72-73-71=291 (+3) 2. ARIZONA 1,46617. Andrew Medley 79-74-69-73=295 (+7) 3. Arizona State 1,475T23. Reid Hatley 78-74-72-76=300 (+12) 4. Stanford 1,478T27. Brian Woolf 72-79-75-75=301 (+13) 5. Washington 1,484T40. Kipp Riehle 77-74-81-74=306 (+18)
Pac-10 Finishes: Now in its 26th season of Pac-10 competition, Arizona has represented itself well at the Pac-10 Men's Golf Championships by winning the event twice (1987, 1991) and 11 other top-three finishes, including seven runner-up efforts. The last two times Arizona hosted the event, it posted top-three finishes both times. In 1984, the Cats finishes third, 17 strokes behind champion USC, while in 1994, UA placed second, three shots behind Stanford. If you are looking for omens, a UA player has claimed individual medalist honors both times the team has hosted the championship event - Paul Nolen in 1984 and Jason Gore in 1994.
Coming Full Circle: Back in 1984, Paul Nolen became the first Arizona player to capture individual medalist honors (UA golfers have won the event six times) when he drained a 13-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden death playoff at Tucson Country Club. Nolen's heroics capped a tournament in which, at the time, his 12-under 276 total was the third-lowest winning score in tournament history. Nolen is now the head teaching professional at The Gallery at Dove Mountain, the site of this season's tournament.
Second Effort: Chris Nallen was one of 10 student-athletes named April 14 as a semifinalist for the 2004 Ben Hogan Award, which is presented annually to the top NCAA Division I, II, III, or NAIA golfer. The award covers all collegiate and amateur competitions during the last 12 months. The award is presented by The Friends of Golf and Colonial Country Club, in cooperation with Bank of America and the Golf Coaches Association of America. The Hogan Award selection committee will name five finalists on April 27. The winner of the Hogan Award will be announced on May 6. The presentation will be made at Colonial Country Club on May 17. It marks the second straight season in which Nallen has been a semifinalist for this award.
Falling Fast: After not posting a top-five finish in four fall tournaments, the Wildcats have certainly turned things around in the spring, winning three of six events to date and posting two other runner-up finishes. All told, the Cats have posted under-par totals in 14 of 18 rounds (after collecting just two in 11 round this fall) and seen the team stroke average fall more than seven strokes to its current 285.93. In spring competition, Arizona's stroke average is 281.56, a figure that is 11.53 strokes less than its average during the four fall events.
Finishing Strong: The Wildcats have proven to be a force on the leader board in spring competition as the varsity has collected 17 top-20 individual finishes through six spring events (already three times more than the five earned in the fall). Freshman Henry Liaw leads the club with six this spring, but three of the other four players in UA's regular rotation (Nallen, 4; Tyler, 3; Lashley, 2) each have at least two top-20s to their credit since the calendar turned to 2004.
This Guy is Good: Chris Nallen is on a pace to set a school record for single-season stroke average. If his current figure of 69.72 holds up, he would be the first person in school to average less than 70 strokes per round for a season (the record is 71.02 by Robert Gamez in 1988-89). So how good has Nallen been? He had a streak of eight consecutive competitive rounds in the 60s (he won two of three events played) end Feb. 18 and he has eight rounds 66 or better. Additionally, he posted four tournament totals of 12-under par or better this season, including two of 17-under or better.
Mr. Consistency: Henry Liaw has rebounded nicely from a slow start this fall to become a major factor in spring competition. The freshman from Rowland Heights, Calif., currently carries a solid 71.93 stroke average through 11 appearances, which ranks second on the squad. Most impressively, that mark drops to 70.11 in spring competition, and his spring stroke average is 4.80 strokes lower than his 74.91 average last fall. All told, 15 of his 18 rounds this spring have been at par or better, including six rounds in the 60s. Liaw has posted under-par tournament totals in all six events this spring and is the lone Wildcat to post a top-20 finish in every appearance this spring.
Coming on Strong: After settling into the No. 3 position, junior Nathan Lashley has cranked up the productivity. The Scottsbluff, Neb., native has seen his stroke average drop to a respectable 72.72, including a 71.83 average this spring. Eight of his last 10 rounds have been at par or better, including a career-low-equaling 67 in the final round April 10 at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. He collected his first career top-10 finish in February and added a top-20 effort at the Hall of Fame Invitational in March.
Fast Starter: A member of the starting five since making his college debut on Sept. 12, freshman Josh Esler joins Liaw as the only freshmen on the UA roster (there are nine) to play in all 11 varsity events, including the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship. Esler has proven to be a fast starter for the Wildcats, as he ranks third on the club with a 71.70 first-round scoring average. A steady golfer, Esler has a 73.97 stroke average through 29 rounds played (nine at par or better) and posted the lowest tournament total of his collegiate career with a three-under 213 at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.
Settling In: Redshirt freshman Nathan Tyler brought stability and much-needed productivity to the UA lineup, as the Tucson, Ariz., product has played well in the No. 5 slot in all six tournaments this spring. Tyler is averaging 72.58 in 18 spring rounds, down slightly from his 73.30 season stroke average. Along with Nallen (6) and Liaw (3), Tyler is the only Wildcat with multiple top-10 finishes this season.