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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA men’s golf team to tee off in Braveheart Invitational

    As the Arizona men’s golf team heads into this second month of spring competition following one of its worst years under head coach Rick LaRose, there’s a sense from the team’s most experienced player that 2008-09 has featured a mixed bag.

    “”I feel like we’re all getting a little bit better every dayÿ- that’s the goal,”” said redshirt senior Tyler Neal. “”We’re all getting more comfortable with each other, and it’s pretty stress-free when we’re playing right now, as long as we’re playing well.””

    The Wildcats will vie to improve on their third-place finish in the John Burns Tournament in Hawaii less than two weeks ago when they hit the links today in the Braveheart Invitational in Beaumont, Calif.

    The tournament, hosted by UC-Riverside, will be composed of 18 teams, and will be held at the Oak Valley Golf Courseÿ- a par-72, 7,003-yard layout.

    Neal said the team is focusing on playing strong throughout any give tournament. In the Burns’ Tournament, Arizona led all teams after the first round, then slid down two spots by the end of play.

    Neal used metaphors relating to racing – on the road and the track -ÿexplaining that the team needs to put the pedal to the metal and keep sprinting to the finish line, rather than coasting. When translated back into golf terms, that could relate to the green.

    “”The putts may not have been falling,”” said Tyler, who finished the tournament with at 7 under to tie for seventh place individually. “”I know in the last tournament, they weren’t falling for me in the final round.””

    Neal will be accompanied with sophomores Tarquin MacManus, Rich Saferian, Jonathan Khan and junior Brad Nicholson in the tournament.

    The quintet has carded a combined 78 rounds this season and has racked up three total top-20 finishes and four in the top 10. They have a combined scoring average of 73.954.

    “”I think this is going to be the team that’s set in stone,”” Neal said. “”These five guys -ÿwe’ve just kind of proven ourselves as the most consistent, and probably the most reliable guys to send out to a golf tournament.””

    The Wildcats saw the course for the first time Saturday and played a practice round Sunday. It’s a course that won’t warrant any relaxation for the golfers.

    “”There’s a lot of hills. It’s a real undulated golf course, meaning there’s just a lot of little nooks and crannies where there’s bumps and hills,”” Neal said. “”The course just plays hard and fast, because we’re in this valley here where the wind just doesn’t stop blowing. It just hardens out the greens, and makes the greens hard to putt on and hard to chip on.””

    Nobody said it was going to be easy to translate the team’s ups and downs into a constant string of positives.

    “”It’s all about experience,”” Neal said, “”and you can’t teach experience.””

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