Wildcats finish in 23rd place over weekend
The Arizona Wildcats’ basketball team went home empty-handed this weekend in the Elite Eight on Saturday in Los Angeles while the Arizona men’s golf squad teed off for The Goodwin in Stanford, Calif. Stanford hosted the event, and the Wildcats shot 878 total strokes (+38).
The rounds in the NCAA Tournament have nifty titles attached to them, such as the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight or Final Four. For Arizona golf this weekend in the Bay Area, the Wildcats finished in the Round of 32 in 23rd place. The only problem is that there were 24 teams in the event. It’s safe to say that Arizona coach Jim Anderson and company have hit rock-bottom this season.
“Yeah, this was a very rough tournament for us from the start, and we couldn’t set ourselves up to get the shots that we wanted in the final round,” Anderson said. “We couldn’t place the right shots to set up for birdies, and that really hurt us all weekend.”
In early March, Anderson made changes in the starting lineup in San Diego by using four freshmen and the lone senior, Alex McMahon. Arizona then finished in seventh place and held a promising future with a Fab Four. The only freshmen that competed for Arizona this weekend were George Cunningham and Peter Koo.
“We went with more experience this weekend, but if we have to compete with youth after qualifiers for ASU, then we’ll do that,” Anderson said. “We’ve made a few changes already this season, so we are definitely capable of doing more.”
The Wildcats got off to a mediocre start in the event when they shot 11-over-par, giving them a share of 22nd place at the end of day one. Senior Brenden Redfern carded a 70 (E) and was tied for 36th place.
Cunningham finished the first round tied for 92nd place after shooting a 74 (+4). The positive notes for Cunningham were making an eagle and two birdies, but there wasn’t any momentum gathered from those key shots. Koo shared 103rd place after shooting a 75 (+5).
A similarity between the Wildcats’ performance at The Goodwin and the National Invitational Tournament was that they played worse each round.
“We struggled throughout the tournament and really lost focus,” Anderson said, “so we were in a funk, and we just didn’t play our best golf.”
Cunningham had an uplifting second round after the freshman posted a score of 67 (-3). He was the only Wildcat to score under par this weekend, and the only other Arizona player to come close was Redfern. Cunningham would card a final round of 1-over-par, with four birdies, to finish tied for 39th place (+2).
Redfern finished tied for 80th place (+8). Koo would go on to have his best round of the tournament in the final round, shooting a 74 and finishing in 115th place.
The conditions never looked good for Arizona and competing with ASU this weekend couldn’t of came at a worse time.
“We have to regroup, and we’ve had soul searching times like this before, but we’re going to have extremely competitive qualifiers for ASU and get back to work,” Anderson said. “We have our work cut out for us at this point, and it’s only going to get more competitive as we’re nearing the last stretch of the season.”
Arizona will compete in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational on Friday and Saturday with a 7:45 a.m. tee time in Tempe.
Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.