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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Men seek new leader in Alabama

    The No. 25 Arizona men’s golf team heads to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend, still in search of its identity.

    At the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, which begins today, the Wildcats will have another chance to address what UA head coach Rick LaRose said is the team’s most pressing need at present: finding some leadership.

    The Wildcats are still struggling to find the right combination after losing would-be senior Henry Liaw to the professional ranks before the season and senior Brian Prouty to a wrist injury for the fall season.

    “”We’re kind of trying to search ourselves out right now,”” LaRose said. “”Hopefully, somebody will step up and become a leader of this group.””

    Arizona will need someone to step up fast, as the tournament features several of the top teams in the country.

    The Wildcats are one of five ranked teams in the 12-team field, which includes No. 7 Alabama, No. 12 Brigham Young, No. 19 Georgia State and No. 20 East Tennessee State.

    LaRose mentioned junior Travis Esway as someone with the potential to step up and lead.

    Esway was critical of his performance at the team’s season-opening tournament in Albuquerque, N.M., in late September, where he tied for 31st, and said he is looking forward to putting it behind him and starting fresh on the road.

    “”If we take care of business and do what we need to do, I think we are going to play pretty well,”” Esway said.

    Freshman Pedro Oriol also drew praise from LaRose for his consistent play in his first U.S. tournament. Oriol shot a 3-over 75 all three rounds in Albuquerque.

    LaRose said he would not be surprised if Oriol ended up being the team’s best player by the end of the season, noting that he is still adjusting to a new country and a new language.

    Oriol and Esway will be joined in the lineup by junior Trey Denton, sophomore Ben Fox and redshirt senior Nathan Tyler, who was Arizona’s best overall finisher last weekend, coming in tied for 20th despite competing as an individual.

    Tyler replaces senior Josh Esler in the lineup, who will not make the trip after finishing 54th in New Mexico.

    LaRose said the team’s tournament lineup will continue to be determined by each individual’s play and is always subject to change.

    Playing such a difficult early schedule with so many roster question marks might seem counterproductive, but LaRose said he believes in challenging his team, like UA men’s basketball coach Lute Olson does.

    “”You take a chance on maybe not winning and maybe not being ranked as high as you’d like because you’re playing against some great competition, but it pays off in the end,”” LaRose said.

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