Conference challenge awaits No. 22 men's golf

By Allison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 3, 2005

While Arizona students start their week off with their usual slate of classes and homework, the No. 22 Arizona men's golf team will spend today and tomorrow in Glenview, Ill., competing in the second-annual Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge.

Arizona joins Pacific 10 Conference rivals ASU, California, Oregon, UCLA, Southern California and Washington in facing off against Big Ten schools Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue.

The tournament will feature individual and team champions on top of a conference challenge, where each league counts up its lowest six scores for each round to determine a winner.

Last year, the Pac-10 won the conference challenge, as ASU's Alejandro Canizares took home the individual title with a 2-under-par 142 over two rounds.

Minnesota won the team title in a scorecard playoff with a 20-over 596.

"I am confident in (our) team," said Arizona assistant coach John Knauer.

Five Wildcats - juniors Henry Liaw, Josh Esler and Nathan Tyler, and sophomores Travis Esway and Trey Denton - will compete at The Glen Club, a 54-hole, par-72 course.

Among the players, only Esler is familiar with the course, hailing from Wauconda, Ill.

Knauer said that the team's frequent traveling adds an element of surprise in many tournaments.

"It's not like a football game where you know the field," he said. "Every course is different in golf."

This will be especially true this week at The Glen Club, which opened in 2001, and was built upon the former Glenview Naval Air Base, which was closed by President Clinton in 1993, according to the course Web site,

Its designer, Tom Fazio, was able to "create the features and topography from scratch," according to the course's Web site.

Knauer said that he believes Liaw is due for his first big performance of the season at this challenging course, and he also expects sophomore Trey Denton to perform well, adding that Denton has been besting his teammates in recent practices.

"We need to step up and get off to a good start," Denton said.

Denton said that he also has high expectations for himself in the tournament. One of his main goals, he said, is to improve his scoring average and turn in sub-par rounds. Esway said that yesterday's practice round would help everyone adjust to the course's contours.

"We are a really young team with a lot of potential," Esway said. "We want to go out there and win it."