By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

It was supposed to be like this.

Before the Pac-10 tournament began, the feeling among many was that the men's golf title would be decided among Arizona State, Stanford and Arizona.

These teams were ranked second, third and 11th, respectively, coming into the 72-hole tournament at Tucson National Golf Club, and the only Pac-10 teams in the top 20.

But after 36 holes, it was Oregon State sitting atop the leader board, five shots ahead of the Wildcats, while Stanford was third and ASU languished in a tie for sixth.

The Beavers' dam broke yesterday, however, as the top teams and favored players put up impressive numbers in the third round and restored order to the field.

Defending champion and UA sophomore Jason Gore, stuck in a tie for 13th after 36 holes after rounds of 73-74, rebounded with a third-round 68 to jump into a tie for the lead with Oregon State's Birk Nelson at 215.

On the team side, Stanford jumped to the top spot in the competition, firing a tournament-low round of 356 to lead second-place Arizona by eight strokes 1092 to 1100 going into today's final round on the par-72, 7,055-yard course. Defending cham-pion ASU is in third place, perched only four shots behind the Wildcats.

David Howser, the only senior on the Arizona team, said that smart play by the relatively young team, which fields three sophomores and two freshmen, will be the key to Arizona taking the title today.

"We have to hit smart shots and go for the pin on shots that allow you to do that," he said. "You can't take unnecessary risks and you can't get down on yourself."

Howser, who is in a tie for 27th place after struggling again yesterday with a five-over 77, said that the play of the underclassmen has made the difference.

"Right now it's the inexperienced players that are playing well," Howser said. "I'm in no position to talk, I know they'll do great tomorrow."

Howser said that Gore's play has "saved" the team.

"(His 68) just saved us," Howser said. "He stepped his game up and posted a great number. He took up a lot of slack from the guys that played poorly."

Tucson National, home of the PGA's Northern Telecom Open, flummoxed the golfers through the first two rounds, but the players had their revenge yesterday.

After only one sub-70 round, that by Oregon's Paul Regali, through the first 36 holes, the course surrendered five sub-70s during the third round, among them Gore's 68 and a 69 from defending NCAA individual champion Todd Demsey of ASU, which vaulted him from a tie for 13th to a tie for second at 216. Second-round leader Regali, Oregon State's Charles Kingsbaker and Stanford's Steve Burdick are tied with Demsey, one shot behind the leaders.

With three of the top 11 teams in the country separated by only 12 shots, Coach Wally Goodwin of the first-place Cardinal said that the championship is up for grabs.

"Even if you had a pretty big lead, it's easy to fall apart," Goodwin said. "A birdie for one team and a bogey for another, that's two shots and your off.

"The top three teams all have experienced players, these guys won't fold. It should be a real shootout."

The shootout could include two other teams. The Beavers sit at 1106, two shots behind the Sun Devils, while Cal is also within 20 shots of the lead, at 1111.

Other Arizona players in the championship include Gary Matthews, in a tie for seventh at 217, Mike Jones in a tie for 23rd at 222, Ted Purdy in a tie for 25th at 223 and Tim Beans in a tie for 38th at 228.

Final round play began this morning at 7.. Read Next Article