By Dmitry Rashnitsov
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Although the Arizona men's golf team fell a little short of a hole in one in its fall season, the Wildcats said they're only a chip shot away from putting together a title run in the spring.
The team played in five tournaments in the fall, logging top-10 finishes in each. Arizona's best finish was sixth at the CordeValle Collegiate Classic in San Martin, Calif., Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
"(We) didn't play as good as we wanted to, but we still have a good chance to make the postseason," said Arizona assistant coach John Knauer. "We want to peak towards the end of the (spring)."
The Wildcats averaged a team score of 72.71 strokes per round. Knauer said he knows one way to get that number down.
"Overall, as a team, we need to putt better," he said.
There was no dissent in the ranks over that observation.
"I will spend a couple hours each day working on chipping and putting," said junior Josh Esler.
2006 men's golf schedule
John Burns Intercollegiate
Las Vegas Invitational
Hall of Fame Invitational
National Invitational Tournament
ASU Thunderbird Invitational
Pac-10 Conference Championships
NCAA West Regional
May 31-June 3
Esler averaged 72.89 strokes in nine rounds and had two top-20 finishes. He also turned in four below-par cards, third best on the team.
Junior Henry Liaw finished with an average score of 72.25 strokes per round and one top 10 finish. He carded five rounds below par, tied for first on the team with sophomore Trey Denton, but said he struggled with putting and his driving accuracy.
"I think the fall season is not as good," Liaw said. "We are young. We knew we were going to struggle."
Knauer said he thought one of his team's strengths was scoring on par-3 holes. Overall, he said, it was Arizona's depth that got them through the semester.
"A lot of players could step up, and we could be a great team," Knauer said. "We need to have guys assert themselves in the spring."
The team hopes a little less traveling will bring about some success in the spring. Three of the Wildcats' six regular-season tournaments will be played in Arizona, two of them in Tucson.
"You have to defend your home turf," Knauer said.
The Wildcats said they have high hopes for the John Burns Intercollegiate tournament Feb. 22-24 in Wahiawa, Hawaii. Arizona won it two years ago and finished third last season.
"It's a course we know well," Knauer said.
Of course, the ultimate goal for the team is to win the national title at the NCAA Championships in June.
Knauer said he's sure his team will at least advance to the year's final event, something Arizona has done for the last 19 seasons.
"I cannot fathom not being at the tournament," he said.