April 20, 2000
Pullman, Wash.--- Trying to avoid last place at the Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship for the fourth consecutive year could be an uphill battle for head coach Walt Williams and his Washington State Cougars. The second-year coach will bring his team into Tempe, Ariz next week to face nine teams ranked in the top-50 in the nation.
"We're still building, but everyone expects us to finish tenth," Williams said. "We've played really well at times, but these guys are very young."
At the head of the Cougar youth movement is sophomore Jeremy Taylor (West Richland, Wash.), who had an outstanding spring season and heads to Tempe as WSU's scoring leader at 75.1 per round. Fellow sophomore Jon Reehoorn (Burlington, Wash.) is looking to get out of a spring-long slump that has raised his scoring average from 73.8 in the fall to 76.1 this spring.
Williams is encouraged by the recent play of senior Eric Toomey, who broke out of a season-long slump by carding a four-over par 220 on the Karsten Golf Course last week at the Thunderbird Invitational, site of the Pac-10 Championships on April 24-26.
"I just want to finish out my college career strong," Toomey said. "My whole career here I've had to listen to jokes about us not belonging in the conference and that it's the Pac-9. Other teams don't think we take golf seriously and I think we are finally in a position to make some noise."
"Eric had been in a prolonged slump," Williams said. "But he came out of it in the last month and I think he will have a good tournament to close out his career."
Also making the trip to the desert will be sophomore Roger Flynn (Boise, Idaho), and freshmen Matt McGeeney (San Pedro, Calif.) and Dustin White (Pueblo West, Colo.). The group of one senior, three sophomores and two freshmen will be battling a field featuring five teams in the Golfweek / Sagarin College Golf Rankings, with nine Pac-10 squads in the top-42 in the same poll.
"Every other team in the conference is in the top-50 and we have been in and out of the top-100 all year and right now we are not in it," Williams said. "The team played the course last week and got a taste of desert golf so hopefully that will help."
Last weekend at the Thunderbird / Savane Invitational in Tempe, WSU fired a 39-over par 903, including a 297 in the second round. At the Pac-10 Championship, the scoring system will favor the deeper teams, with the top five individual scores counting instead of the top four like last weekend's event.
The 40th Pac-10 Championship will begin Monday, April 24 at 7:00 am. Washington State's number six player will tee off with Southern California's number six at 7:54 am on the 10th tee. 36 holes will be played on Monday, followed by 18 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
1990 was the last time the Pac-10 Championship was held at Karsten Golf Course on the campus of Arizona State University. That year, the Phil Mickelson-led Sun Devils bested in-state rivals by 54 strokes to take the title.
WSU LINEUP: Sophomore Roger Flynn will be making his fourth appearance of the 1999-2000 season. Made his collegiate debut at the Stan Sheriff Invitational last fall. 4.0 GPA in mechanical engineering... Redshirt freshman Matt McGeeney made his collegiate debut at the fall Husky Invitational and finished in a tie for 21st. He grabbed his second top-25 appearance the following week at the Wolf Pack Classic by tying for 21st again. On the season, McGeeney has finished in the top-25 three times and has a 76.6 stroke average... Redshirt sophomore Jon Reehoorn finished in the top-25 in all five fall tournaments and had a 73.8 average. He has struggled at times in the spring but did finish two-under par and grabbed fifth place at the Inland Collegiate Challenge... Sophomore Jeremy Taylor has been the most consistent player all year for WSU. His best tournament of the year was Texas A&M's Border Olympics, where he fired a 221 and tied for sixth. He heads to Tempe with a 74.6 average and four top-25 finishes on the year... Senior Eric Toomey will be looking to finish up his WSU career strong. He carded a four-over par 220 at last week's Thunderbird/Savane Invitational and has a solid 74.9 stroke average this spring... True freshman Dustin White has experienced the high school to Division I growing pains but don't be fooled by his 78.3 scoring average. White had his best tournaments in some of the strongest fields, including a 12th place finish in the fall at the Husky Invitational, where he carded a seven-over par 223 and was only four strokes off the leaders after two rounds.
CASEY LOOKING FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE TITLE: Arizona State's Paul Casey has won the past two Pac-10 individual titles, including a collegiate low of 60 in the final round last year at the Broadmoor Country Club in Seattle. Casey is looking to become the first Pac-10 player to win three consecutive titles. Sherman Finger of USC accomplished the feat in 1964-66, when eight teams competed for the title. Jason Gore of Arizona won back-to-back Pac-10s in 1993-94.
SUN DEVILS LOOKING FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE PAC-10 TITLE: When the Sun Devils won last year's Pac-10 Championship in Seattle, they set a conference record by winning the title for the fifth consecutive year. It was their 10th overall championship and seventh in the 1990s. This year's team will again be the favorite as they enter the event ranked sixth in the nation, best among Pac-10 teams, and feature two players, Casey and Matt Jones, ranked in the top-25 in the country individually.
GOLFWEEK/SAGARIN DISTRICT 8 RANKINGS: Thirteen teams from District 8 will advance to the NCAA West Regional. Here are the current rankings: 1) Arizona State 3) Arizona 4) Stanford 5) Washington 6) USC 7) UCLA 8) Oregon State 9) Oregon 10) California 19) Washington State
GOLFWEEK/SAGARIN INVDIVIDUAL RANKINGS: Six players competing next week in Tempe are ranked in the top-50 individually. Washington State's highest ranked player is sophomore Jon Reehoorn, who enters the event at 371. 4) Paul Casey, Arizona State 23) Matt Jones, Arizona State 33) Troy Kelly, Washington 34) Ricky Barnes, Arizona 46) Brandon DiTullio, UCLA 50) Derek Gillespie, Arizona