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M-golf tees off in Tempe

Arizona senior golfer Rich Saferian lines up a put during the Calloway Match Play Championship at Ritz Carlton Golf Course on March 17. Saferian and the men?s golf team will compete in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe this weekend.

The Arizona men's golf team is set for its last regular-season tournament of the season, today's ASU Thunderbird Invitational at Karsten Golf Course in Tempe.

The Wildcats are still trying to exhibit consistent play from all five golfers on their scorecard.

After winning the Braveheart Classic by 20 strokes, they finished dead last at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. They went on to finish fourth at the National Invitational Tournament, but 10th at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play.

""Consistency is something we've struggled with in the fifth spot,"" said senior Rich Saferian, who will be playing in the last regular-season event of his career.

For the second consecutive tournament, freshman Trent Redfern, who went 3-1 at last week's match play tournament, will try his hand at the end of the lineup.

""Hopefully Trent will be able to help us out with (the No. 5 spot),"" Saferian said.

This is the team's final tune-up before the Pacific 10 Conference Championship, which is also held at Karsten Golf Course. All 10 teams in the conference are using this tournament as an opportunity to get familiar with the course, as well as the competition they will be facing.

""We're obviously always trying to win and put ourselves in a position to compete,"" said junior Tarquin MacManus, the team's No. 1 golfer. ""If we can get anything else out of a tournament, that's great — but competing is the main thing.""

Arizona could be fighting for a postseason bid, as the NCAA Golf Championships are set up like the NCAA basketball tournaments — conference tournament winners get automatic bids, while the rest of the field receives at-large bids.

There are about 60 at-large spots up for grabs, and the Wildcats, ranked No. 42 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, would appear to have a firm grasp on one of them.

Arizona State is the two-time defending champion in this event and is one of the favorites in the conference tournament, ranked at No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin poll.

No. 2 Stanford and No. 7 UCLA are the only Pac-10 teams in the top-10, but ASU and No. 15 Oregon are both in the top 20.

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