"UA prepares for ASU, Pac-10 field"
The Pacific 10 Conference Championships are looming, and the Arizona men's golf team knows it could make or break the season.
The Wildcats will be in familiar territory, as their last tournament, the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, was held at the same venue as the Pac-10 Championships — ASU's Karsten Golf Course.
All 10 of the conference's teams took part in the ASU Invitational, but some teams may have a leg up on others.
""I would say it's more beneficial for the younger teams and freshmen,"" said Rich Saferian, the lone senior in UA's lineup. ""It really an advantage to guys that haven't played there before, but it helps nonetheless.""
Junior Jonathan Khan, a regular in the Arizona lineup, had another take on the advantage of getting a sneak preview of the course.
""We took a couple individuals to the tournament because in the conference tournament you play six people and count five scores, instead of five playing and four scores counting,"" Khan said. ""It allowed those extra guys to get a look at the course and get a preview of how they'll approach things.""
Arizona has struggled to find balance from its fifth golfer this season, and adding a sixth golfer to the mix could prove to be disastrous for the Wildcats.
""I think it's going to be Trent (Redfern) playing in the fifth spot, and he's played well when he's gotten the chance,"" Khan said. ""Coming up with someone in the sixth spot will be big for us.""
Depth isn't the only issue for UA — finding consistency has proven to be its own monstrous challenge.
""We're just looking for whoever is going to be on the course performing,"" said assistant coach Andy Barnes, who will be caddying for his brother Ricky at the Masters this weekend. ""Everyone is ready to go, so it's going to come down to their performance leading up to the tournament.""
The epitome of the Wildcats' struggle with consistency began earlier this year, when they followed their only victory of the season with a dead-last performance at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship, which boasted one of the most prolific tournament fields in collegiate golf.
Arizona could be trying to play itself into the NCAA tournament, but right now it would appear to have a firm grasp on one of the 60 at-large spots, as it sits at No. 41 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.