By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

To finish the year strong, the Arizona men's golf team has to learn to start fast.

Poor first rounds have removed Arizona from contention in several tournaments this semester.

For example, last weekend at the PING American Intercollegiate in North Carolina, the 11th-ranked Wildcats could finish no better than seventh after falling 18 shots off the pace after the first round.

"We're trying to get more out of our practice round," assistant coach Tom Brill said about possible solutions to the opening-round blues.

"It's mental," Brill said. "We tell them, 'If you hit the ball into the fairway bunker you'll make a double bogey,' and then they hit it into the fairway bunker. Our execution is fine, but the mental side needs to improve.

"We can't just keep putting ourselves into these holes."

This weekend's Thunderbird Intercollegiate at the Karsten Golf Course in Tempe represents the last chance to get out of those holes before the postseason, which begins with the Pac-10 Championships May 2-4 in Tucson. The tournament is also the last chance for the team to build some badly-needed momentum after several middle-of-the-pack finishes.

"This is the momentum-gaining tournament going into Pac-10s," Brill said. "If we're going to get it going, this week will let us know a lot."

Unlike other national tournaments where the course is unknown to the golfers, several Wildcats, including Ted Purdy, Tim Beans and Mike Jones, have experience on the Karsten course, causing Brill to be very optimistic.

"We will play smart golf because we know the course better," he said. "I expect to have our top finish of the year."

The Thunderbird is also the last chance for golfers to earn a spot on the Pac-10 tournament team.

Jim Zadvorny, Gary Matthews, Mike Jones, Tim Beans and Jay Pennypacker are in the running for the final two spots on the traveling squad for the Pac-10s.

"Our four and five spots are still shaky," Brill said. "Two of those guys will have to step up, they have got to help the team."

David Howser, Jason Gore, Purdy, Jones and Beans will compete for the UA at the intercollegiate, while Matthews and Pennypacker will play as individuals, Brill said. Read Next Article