UA men's golf sees season end at Pac-12 Championships

Arizona men’s golf ended its 2015 season on Wednesday in Pullman, Wash., after finishing in ninth place (+46) in the Pac-12 Championships.

This season wasn’t in Arizona’s favor by any means. But fortunately for third-year coach Jim Anderson, there were a few bright spots to build from. There were individuals who made the most out of the season despite it being classified as a down year for the Wildcats.

The biggest concern going into the season was how Anderson would coach players who played in two different eras before he was hired in 2012. Making the transition from Rick LaRose, who coached 34 years at Arizona, to Anderson was a courageous step for players such as seniors Brenden Redfern and Alex McMahon.

Anderson’s squad had a group of freshmen highlighted by Cunningham to complement the veterans.

The scenario was very similar to the Arizona men’s basketball program going from hall of fame head coach Lute Olson to a young Sean Miller. Like Miller, Anderson is known for his success on the recruiting trail and brought in a group of eager golfers highlighted by George Cunningham, who was ranked as the second-best golfer in the country, according to Golfweek and the American Junior Golf Association.

The Wildcats opened up the 2015 season at home at the Sewailo Golf Club in late January for the Arizona Intercollegiate and left with a bitter taste in their mouths after ASU and Max Rottluff came in and stole the show.

Rottluff shot a 203 (-10) and won the individual tournament while the Sun Devils would go on to win the event.

The following week, Cunningham received the opportunity to play alongside former Wildcat and current PGA golfer Jim Furyk at the Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Cunningham shot 72 strokes (+1) in the individual competition. Cunningham teamed up with Furyk in the team competition along side athletic director Greg Byrne and Wildcat Club member Peter Evans. The group finished in 11th place just before Cunningham had to take off for Hawaii and the John Burns Invitational.  

The Wildcats were in search of a motivating win as the month of March hit. Anderson made the call to install four freshmen into the starting lineup to go along with McMahon.

The lineup for the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic in Chula Vista, Calif., consisted of freshmen Cunningham, Max Donohue, Jacob Kreuz, Peter Koo and senior McMahon.

The Wildcats saw progression after the young lineup was able to place seventh in that event.

Anderson maintained that lineup for the remainder of year, considering it will most likely remain the same for the next three seasons.

The Wildcats’ chances of postseason play after the Pac-12 Championships were nailed shut in April.

Arizona placed ninth in the Pac-12 Championships by shooting 46-over-par over the course of four rounds, which concluded the regular season for the Wildcats. Cunningham was placed on the All-Pac-12 second team, and the freshman could hear his name called for the NCAA Regionals.

Arizona will lose McMahon and Redfern, but the core of the four soon-to-be sophomores and another solid recruiting class for Anderson could be the recipe for success come next spring.

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