By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday February 19, 2003
The Arizona men's golf team, fresh off its first win of the spring, is beginning play this morning in Hawaii at the John Burns Invitational.
The team, ranked fifth in the recent Precept GCAA Coaches Poll, will start play at the 6,712-yard, par-72 layout as the highest ranked team in the field. Arizona is one of only four teams in the field that are ranked in the nation's top 20, joining UNLV (8), New Mexico (16), and Auburn (20).
The Wildcats were winners of their own tournament at the beginning of February, the Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate, with a 23-under total of 829 which bumped them into the top five nationally, their first visit to that spot all year.
At the Ping-Arizona, junior Chris Nallen finished second, and seniors Ricky Barnes and Reid Hatley also both finished in the top 10. Nallen's second-place showing carded his fourth top-10 finish of the year, one short of the individual winner, Chris Baryla of UTEP.
Barnes, defending U.S. Amateur Champion, tallied his third top-10 finish of the year and his lowest total of the year with an 8-under 205.
The team has high hopes for this tournament, with both Nallen and Barnes looking to play their best golf of the year, and with what looks to be the weakest field of the year, Arizona could win its second in a row and a great start to a promising spring.
The field at the Leilehua Golf Course also includes Brigham Young, California, UC Santa Barbara, Denver, host Hawaii, UH Hilo, Nagoya, Pacific, San Diego State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Southern Methodist, UTEP and Utah.
The Golf Channel will be doing a special on the University of Arizona today at 5 p.m. College Central, which runs every Wednesday, focuses on the best programs in the country, and this week Ricky Barnes will be showing The Golf Channel around campus while Chris Nallen will be cluing them in on the golf facility. Ricky Barnes and Chris Nallen both have moved up in the Golfweek/Sarazan performance index, ranking 17th and 18th, respectively.