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Men take early lead in Tucson tourney


Photo
Josh Fields/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Leader of the pack: Arizona junior golfer Henry Liaw chips onto a green at the Arizona National golf course yesterday during the first day of the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate. Liaw leads all golfers at 9-under-par, while Arizona leads the team field overall heading into the last day of competition today.
By Allison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
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Golf begins second leg of long season

Picture this: You are a student-athlete at Arizona. Not just any student-athlete but a golfer on the men's golf team, a sport in which the season runs from September to June.

Are you stressed out yet?

The Arizona men's golf team began the plunge into the second part of its season with the start of the Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate yesterday, which boasts four of 16 teams that were nationally ranked at the end of the fall season, yet features Arizona at the top of the team leaderboard. Arizona junior Henry Liaw leads all golfers individually at 9-under-par, with holes left to complete in his second round.

Play was suspended due to darkness late last night, with most players and teams nearing the end of the second round, while a handful of players completed the 36-hole day. The end of that round plus the two final rounds are slated to conclude at the Arizona National golf course in Tucson today, beginning at 8 a.m., frost permitting.

The Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate is the first of three tournaments played in Tucson during the spring season, with the National Invitational Tournament and the NCAA West Regional slated to bring college golfers back to Tucson later in the season.

During the fall season, the men placed in the top 10 of every event they played in to go along with one top-five finish. Now they embark on the second half of their season, where they get to play closer to home.

Arizona assistant coach John Knauer said that the spring season is all about being more in your comfort zone and that the weather is exponentially better.

Junior Henry Liaw said he agrees that weather is a major factor for the team entering into the spring season.

"We are more used to the atmosphere," Liaw said. "Playing in the pouring rain is not good for anybody."

Liaw said he hopes to get the spring season off to a better start, beginning with the home tournament.

"We slipped in the ranking during the fall," Liaw said. "Playing at home will give us an advantage."

Both Knauer and Liaw said that playing against some Pacific 10 Conference teams will help the team because they will know their competition better.

With the increased level of play,

Knauer said that the team is looking to make a big jump in performance and rankings this spring.

"Fall is just as important as spring season, but the spring has more urgency," he said.

Knauer added that golf is just like any other sport in that if you lose early, it's easier to shake it off. The golf team is looking to shake off its fall season and start anew with the spring season.

"I think it's really perception," Knauer said.

Don't think that the team is going to be rusty after a break, since Knauer said that all of the team has been practicing through break. With a sport like golf with such a long season, the training is constant and cyclical.

"Training is not something we are trying to redo," Knauer said.

Knauer said that he is looking for Liaw to break out during the spring season.

"This could be the best semester he has," Knauer said. "I just see him doing well."

Liaw said he agrees with those sentiments. His goals for the rest of the season are becoming an All-American and having a good enough spring to be Pac-10 Player of the Year. He added that he wants to win as a team as well.

"Most importantly, I want a national championship," Liaw said.

The best thing about the golf season may be the fact that it has two beginnings. One fall and one spring season means a second chance to have the best season they can.

Spring may just prove to be that time for the Arizona men's golf team, as their season is already off to a terrific start.

Besides leading the overall competition at the midway point and having Liaw atop the individual scoreboard, the Wildcats posted other top scores yesterday.

Sophomore Travis Esway is currenty tied for seventh after the completed first round of play with a score of 69, and is 5-under-par overall, with holes yet to be completed in his second round.

Playing at a home meet, the Wildcats were able to split up their teams, with the Arizona A team consisting of Liaw, Esway, junior Josh Esler, sophomore Trey Denton and redshirt junior Nathan Tyler. None of the A team was able to finish their second round.

When play was halted, the Arizona B team of juniors Mark Lamb and Ben Marsh, redshirt junior Brian Prouty, and freshmen Nick Park and Ben Fox, was currently in fourth place in the team standings. Lamb was the only player able to finish the second round, firing a 4-over-par for the first two rounds.

Tyler and Esway are currently tied for seventh place on the individual leaderboard, with Wildcat B team members Park at 10th and Fox and Marsh tied for 15th.



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