Big three gain leadership roles on the tee
No matter the sport, every successful team needs a leader. Fortunately for head coach Rick LaRose and the UA men's golf team, the 2009-10 team will feature not just one but three leaders.
For a team that finished 30th in the 2009 NCAA Men's Golf Championships and ranked 38th overall by the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, leadership on and off the course is the key to a bounce-back season.
Enter senior Rich Saferian, and juniors Tarquin MacManus and Jonathan Khan.
With another season behind them, the Wildcats' top three golfers are set to take control of this year's UA men's golf squad, aided by their experience.
""We definitely have to take a leadership role and make sure people are doing what they are supposed to at practice and also at tournaments,"" Saferian said. ""We need to set an example and play well and hope that people follow in our footsteps.""
Saferian spent his first two seasons playing at Scottsdale Community College before continuing on to Arizona for the spring of the 2008-09 season. He ended his junior season ranked No. 210 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, a list comprised of more than 1,500 golfers.
LaRose's big three all have aspirations of All-American honors in addition to postseason success. Each member of this trio knows what he has to do and is motivated to accomplish his goals.
""I think me, Tarquin and Rich will hopefully carry the team and kind of put them on our back,"" Khan said. ""The expectations are high and I think we're going to be pretty good this year.""
A team with five freshmen and only two seniors on the roster will undoubtedly need guidance over the course of the season, and who better than an All-American (MacManus), a senior All-Pac 10 honorable mention selection (Saferian) and Arizona's top finisher in last year's NCAA Championship (Khan) to take on that task?
""I think Tarquin is going to take on a much bigger leadership role this year,"" LaRose said. ""He certainly will be our number one player and our best player going into the fall, and I think he'll get some great competition from guys like Khan and Saferian.""
Last season MacManus led the team in nearly every statistical category: varsity events played, average score per round, top ten finishes, top twenty finishes, and lowest round of the season — 63. He plans to lead the Wildcats by allowing his scorecard to speak for itself.
""I'm just going to try and go out there this year and focus on my own game and lead by example,"" MacManus said. ""Hopefully it will be good enough to start the year off well and get a couple of wins early on.""
Last year's mediocre season was a rarity for a UA men's golf squad that has reached the NCAA Championships in 24 of the last 28 years and has been ranked No. 1 in 13 of those years. This trio of great golfers hopes to bring championship prowess back to Arizona men's golf.
""I think like most sports, you need your upperclassmen to be upperclassmen; they have to perform like it and act like it,"" said assistant coach Andy Barnes. ""(The three leaders) are vital to our success this year.""