Fresh off a Pac-12 title, Arizona men’s golf is staying out west for the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats were named the No. 4 seed of the Cle Elum, Wash. Regional, which takes place May 16 through May 19. The top five finishers of the 54-hole event will advance to the NCAA Championship, held at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale the following week.
Arizona faces stiff competition at Cle Elum, including top three seeds Wake Forest, Pepperdine and Florida.
UW, the host school of the regional, is the No. 7 seed, while Pac-12 foes Utah and Oregon earned the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds respectively.
Located about 100 miles southwest from Seattle, Cle Elum’s climate could pose a challenge for the regional favorites. Golf Channel’s Paige Mackenzie, a Washington native and Huskies alum, had this to say on the selection show broadcast:
“A lot of these teams might be facing extremely cold weather. It could be 40 degrees. It could be 70 degrees, but as I look at the seeding and the top four seeds all coming from warm weather climate, it might provide opportunity for those seeds just outside in an Iowa, in a Washington, even in a San Francisco where it’s a little chillier.”
Arizona will turn to its core of veterans to guide the team through regional play. Redshirt senior Brad Reeves is fresh off a Pac-12 individual championship where he shot 16-under-par. Senior Trevor Werbylo, shot 7-under at the Pac-12s for a tie of eight place, while redshirt senior David Laskin and grad senior Christian Banke also placed in the top 25.
The Wildcats certainly benefit by staying out west, but they lack any previous collegiate experience at Cle Elum. In fact, the program has never competed on the golf course under head coach Jim Anderson.
Anything less than an NCAA Championship berth would be a major disappointment for this team, which was once ranked No. 1 in the nation. With the NCAAs being played a mere two hours from Tucson, this postseason could provide Arizona a real shot at competing for its second ever national championship, joining the 1992 team.
First, the Wildcats must take care of business in Washington.