Cats Return to NCAA Regional Play

May 11, 2009

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On the Tee: With five top-five finishes to its credit, the Arizona men's golf team earned an appearance in the 2009 NCAA Regional, May 14-16, in Sorrento, Fla. ... This is the Wildcats' 20th appearance in the regional since the format was introduced in 1989 with the lone miss coming last season ... It also marks the first time Arizona has participated in NCAA regional action outside of the west.

The Rankings: The Wildcats head into the regional ranked 36th in the current (May 3) Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and were receiving votes in the most recent (April 22) Golf World/Nike Coaches Poll. Individually, sophomore Tarquin MacManus is the top-ranked Wildcat nationally, checking in at No. 65 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 is next up at No. 171.

The Probable Arizona Lineup:Golfer          	Yr.	Avg.	Top 10/20	Low Rd.	RoundsTarquin MacManus	So.	72.65	   4/2   	64	34Tyler Neal      	Sr.	74.56	   4/1   	67	34Rich Saferian   	So.	73.18	   1/2   	66	22Jonathan Khan   	So.	73.82	   1/1   	68	34Philip Bagdade  	Fr.	74.42	   3/1   	68	36

A Look at the NCAA Regional Field: UCF and the Central Florida Sports Commission hosts 54 holes of stroke play over three days at Red Tail Golf Club, a par-72, 7,152-yard layout. Arizona is seeded sixth and will have tee times on hole No. 1 from 8:50-9:30 a.m. EDT on the first day of the event. All told, 14 teams and five individuals fill out the 75-man field. Here is the field listed by seed: Georgia (1), Indiana (2), South Carolina (3), UCF (4), Florida State (5), Arizona (6), Augusta State (7), Kentucky (8), Georgia Southern (9), Georgia State (10), Iowa (11), Charlotte (12), Campbell (13) and Loyola, Md. (14). Individuals include Zach Sucher, UAB (1); Marc-Etienne Bussieres, South Alabama (2); Josh Brock, UNC-Wilmington (3); Bill Jones III, Mercer (4); and Kelly McHugh, Florida Atlantic (5). The top five teams and one individual will advance to the 113th NCAA Championships, May 26-30, at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Live scoring of both the regionals and NCAA Championships will be available at

Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in 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, six 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: Tarquin MacManus shot a final-round 71 to earn a sixth-place individual finish at the 2009 Pac-10 Men's Golf Championships, April 27-29, in Seattle, Wash. MacManus collected five birdies on the day en-route to his one-under tally and finished the 72-hole event in a tie for sixth place at 288 (-3). He played the final three rounds at a combined eight-under par, a feat topped by only one player in the field. It was the fourth top-10 finish of the season for MacManus, which ties him for the team lead, and was his third under-par tournament total this year. Washington's Darren Wallace claimed individual medalist honors with a four-round total of 277 (-11). Only eight players in the 60-man field finished the event under par. As a team, Arizona finished in ninth place with a four-round total of 1483 (+43). Led by MacManus' efforts, the Cats equaled its low round of the tournament in the final round, a seven-over 367. The top three players in the UA lineup were a combined six-under par in the final round, but depth proved to be an issue in this event where the five low scores are counted each round towards the team total. Host Washington won the conference title with a four-round total of 1,424 (-18). The Huskies were the only team to finish under par in the event. In addition to MacManus, UA's Rich Saferian posted a one-under 69 and finished in 30th place at 295 (+7). Teammate Jonathan Khan was two strokes back in a tie for 35th place at 297 (+9). Freshman Philip Bagdade tied for 38th place at 298 (+10).

Last Year at the NCAA Regional: University of Arizona men's golfer Tarquin MacManus carded a two-over-par 74 to close the 2008 NCAA West Regional in Bremerton, Wash. Playing as an individual, MacManus played the back nine at one under during the final round, including two birdies, en route to his two-over 74. It was his best round of the tournament. The native of Cairns, Queensland, Australia, moved into a tie for 79th place in the 141-man field at 13-over 229 (80-75-74). USC topped the 27-team field after 54 holes with a two-under 862 total. Oregon's Joey Benedetti claimed individual medalist honors after carding a nine-under 207.

Regional History: 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 seven. UA has been almost as successful in terms of individual medalists, as five 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) and Chris Nallen, 2004 (211/-5).

Bouncing Back: A year after failing to qualify for the NCAA postseason last year for the first time since 1987, head coach Rick LaRose has his charges back in the NCAA regional, which is the 26th postseason appearance in school history. A year after finishing 83-85-2, LaRose guided a regular lineup that featured three sophomores and a freshman to a cumulative 93-58-1 record and a No. 6 seed.

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.

Racking Up the Mileage: For the first time in 20 regional appearances, Arizona was not placed in the west. Because of that, Arizona will travel farther than any other team in the Sorrento, Fla., regional. How much longer is the Wildcats' trip (approximately 1,776 miles)? It's roughly 700 miles more than any of the other 13 teams or five individuals that make up the field.

Growing Up as We Go Along: Arizona's regional lineup features one senior, three sophomores and a freshman and a grand total of three rounds of experience in NCAA postseason action. Of the 13 players on the Arizona roster, the low five stroke averages come from four sophomores and a freshman. Through 11 team events, UA underclassmen have been the top finisher eight times. They have performed well, as the four underclassmen (MacManus, Saferian, Khan, Bagdade) have combined for a 73.56 stroke average, collected nine top-10 finishes and posted 42 rounds at par or better.

Posting Red Numbers: Three 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 - the 15th lowest tournament total in school history - and seven-under 857 at the National Invitational Tournament in March. All told, the Cats registered 10 under-par rounds as a team in 11 events with the lowest single round, 276 (-12), occurring Feb. 18 at the John Burns Intercollegiate.

Seasonal Improvement: The spring season was one of improvement for the Cats, as the squad posted three top-five finishes and saw its scoring average drop considerably. UA's countable stroke average fell by 1.82 strokes per round this spring when compared to the team's performance in the fall (74.43 fall/72.61spring). 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 290.44 strokes per round, a figure that is more than seven 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 288.97 is easily the lowest of the three rounds, just ahead of its 290.21 average in the first round. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Cats don't close well, as witnessed by its 291.59 scoring average.

Count On Me: Of the five players scheduled to participate in the NCAA regional, three of them (Tarquin MacManus, Tyler Neal, Jonathan Khan) have played in all 34 varsity rounds, while another (Rich Saferian) has played in all 22 spring rounds since gaining his eligibility. Here is who the Wildcats lean on when it comes to rounds counting towards the team total: MacManus 32 of 34 (.941), Saferian 20 of 22 (.909), Khan 26 of 34 (.765) and Neal 23 of 34 (.676). UA's fifth player, Philip Bagdade has seen all seven of his rounds count when he competes with the Arizona varsity.

Team Leader: The only Wildcat with NCAA regional experience, sophomore Tarquin MacManus leads the team with a 72.65 stroke average, a figure drops to 71.50 in his last three events (10 rounds). The Cairns, Queensland, Australia, native has been UA's top finisher in six of his 11 appearances, including four top-10 and two top-20 finishes to date. His low round of 64 is the lowest for any UA player this year and is tied for the eighth-lowest round in school history.

Coming On Strong: Wixom, Mich., product Rich Saferian has provided a nice boost this spring, collecting three top-20 finishes in seven starts to go with a 73.18 stroke average. 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.

Steadying Influence: Jonathan Khan has been nothing if not steady this year. The sophomore from Tucson, Ariz., has played in every event, leads the team with 14 rounds at par or better and ranks third with a 73.82 stroke average. It's probably not coincidental that Khan's three lowest tournament totals came in Arizona's three best team finishes.

Everything is Better: Senior Tyler Neal continues to be a solid contributor for the Cats. This appearance will equal a career best for appearances and set a new high for rounds played in a single season. The Tucson, Ariz., native carries a 74.56 stroke average, shares the team lead with four top-10 finishes and his seven-under 209 tally at October's Wolf Pack Classic is UA's second-best tournament total this season. Neal also ranks third with 11 rounds at par or better.

Pleasant Surprise: It's safe to say that the play of Philip Bagdade has been the surprise of the season. The Eugene, Ore., native leads the team in appearances (12) and rounds played (36) and posts a respectable 74.42 stroke average. Bagdade ranks third on the team with three top-10 finishes and his third-place finish at the National Invitational Tournament in March was the third-best on the squad this season.

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