May 17, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Unlike many college students, college golfers are used to starting their days bright and early. The No. 62 Santa Clara University men's golf team will again arise in the wee hours of the morning Thursday as they tee off at 7 a.m. in their first-ever NCAA West Regional competition. The Broncos, seeded 17th in the 27-team field, will be in the first group to start off from the first tee at the Omni Tucson National Golf Course.
Tournament action begins with Thursday's first round and will continue with one round on both Friday and Saturday. The top 10 schools along with the top two individuals from a non-advancing school in each regional will then move on to the NCAA Championships to be held in Portland, Ore. from May 31-June 3.
Hosted by the University of Arizona, the Omni Tucson National features a pair of 18-hole PGA Championship courses in the 7,262-yard, Par-73 Catalina Course and the 6,552-yard, Par-70 Sonoran Course. Selected as one of Golf Digest's "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America," the Omni serves as the home of the PGA Tour's Chrysler Classic of Tucson. The 232 acres covering the two courses features 10 lakes and 188 strategically-placed bunkers.
The 27 schools are broken up into nine groups of three, with five starting from the first hole and the remaining four starting from the 10th tee.
Following a practice round Wednesday morning, the SCU quintet, consisting of seniors Michael Nicoletti, John Colyar, juniors Eric Lillibridge, Jong Yoon and sophomore Tim Lynch, will look ahead to starting things off with the first group at 7 a.m. Thursday from the first tee box. Santa Clara will be playing in a group with 16th-seeded Denver and 18th-seeded New Mexico State.
Nicoletti leads the team with a per-round average of 73.29 and six individual top-five finishes, including runner-up efforts at the Boise State Bronco Invitational and Rice Intercollegiate, tournaments in which SCU won the team title, and a third-place finish at the West Coast Conference Championships. Colyar's 74.54 per-round average and two top-ten finishes also helped lead Santa Clara on the links. Lillibridge (74.24 average), Yoon (74.61) and Lynch (75.62) have been steady contributors for Santa Clara, grinding away in each tournament and helping the Broncos to nine top-five finishes in the ten tournaments they played in 2005-06. The No. 5 golfer from each school in the group will tee off at 7 a.m., followed by the rest of the quintets in descending order in nine- and ten-minute intervals.