Senior wins individual title by five strokes; Cats take team trophy
Consistency might be a word thrown around a lot with sports figures, but none can rule out the adjective used to describe Chris Nallen's performance this week at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate.
The senior from Hackettstown, N.J., went wire-to-wire with rounds of 63-64-68 to notch an overall 195 and grab his second win of the year and first of the spring.
The Wildcats' team leader won the last tournament of the fall at the 2003 Western Refining College All-American Golf Classic and followed it up this week with an 18-under par 195 that broke the 54-hole record at this event by five strokes.
"I'll have to be honest with you - I didn't think 195 was a number that was particularly feasible on this golf course, especially after what the weather did today," assistant coach John Knauer said after yesterday's final round. "(Nallen) obviously knows more than I know."
Nallen said his consistent play is due to the hard work he put in at the golf course during winter break.
"I've been working hard at it lately," Nallen said. "And I have a lot of confidence. Confidence is such a big thing. If you have that on your side, then you just feel good about everything."
The senior led the young Arizona golf team to its first victory of the year - a win that freshman Henry Liaw said was much needed.
"A lot of teams took us very lightly (after the fall season)," Liaw said. "We have to win (because) this is our home course."
The much-hyped freshman from Rowland Heights, Calif. came in looking for his first top 20 finish of his young collegiate career and finished at a tie for 12th after finishing at 3-under par, highlighted by his first round of 66.
"Henry played great," Nallen said. "I know he didn't have a great fall and he was down on himself, (but he) has so much talent, it's unbelievable."
The Wildcats had five players finishing in the final top 20, including two players, Nick Juszczak and Mark Lamb, who competed on the Arizona B team.
Nallen was in control of his game throughout the entire three days, making only four bogeys in 54 holes and carding only one 3-putzcazk.
On Nallen's final hole, the par-5 18th, he punched a 6-iron from 177 yards to 10 feet, then drained the right-to-left putt for his third eagle of the week.
Knauer, who followed him most of the day, smiled after the shot.
"That was awesome," he said.
The Wildcats hope to make it two for two for the spring season when they head to Hawaii in two weeks to compete in the John Burns Invitational.