Coffman, Haban Lead Wolf Pack after Round 1 at NCAA West Regional
TEMPE, Ariz. Freshman Taylor Coffman turned in three birdies and an eagle in his last six holes to lead the Nevada men’s golf team into a tie for 21st place after the first round of the NCAA West Regional, being held Thursday-Saturday, May 17-19 at the par 72, 7,057-yard ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz.
The Wolf Pack carded a one-over 289 in Thursday’s first round and is tied with UC Irvine for 21st after Thursday’s first round. After making the turn at five-over par, Nevada turned in 10 birdies and an eagle in the final nine holes and stands eight strokes out of the top 10.
UCLA is leading the 27-team NCAA West Regional after carding a 20-under 268 in the first round. The Bruins hold a five-stroke lead over South Carolina, which shot a 15-under 273 on Thursday. Tournament host Arizona State and New Mexico are for third at 13-under 275, while Stanford, USC and Pepperdine are part of a three-way tie for fifth at 11-under 277.
“I’m disappointed with the way we played today. We got off to a really sloppy start. Ive said this year that there are going to be times when we play like the freshmen and sophomores we are. Today, our youth showed. We had a lot of mental mistakes,” third-year head coach Rich Merritt. “The good news is that it could have been worse. I’m proud of the way we fought back. We were six-over at one point on the back nine, but we brought it back. We could have thrown in the towel, but our guys fought back and gave it the best effort we could.”
For Nevada, Coffman, the 2007 Western Athletic Conference Player and Freshman of the Year, had an eagle on the par 5, 527-yard Hole No. 14 and chipped in for a birdie on the par 4, 471-yard 18 to finish at three-under 69. He is tied for 21st individually and stands five strokes off the lead of UCLA’s Erik Flores who carded an eight-over 64 in the first round. Flores holds a one-stroke lead over New Mexico’s Charlie Beljan (65).
“It was kind of a poor day. I didn’t make anything with the putter until the last six holes, but it’s always nice to finish strong,” Coffman said. “We need to get off to a good start tomorrow. We need to go out and play our best and get ourselves back in position.”
“There is a reason that Taylor Coffman is the WAC Player of the Year,” Merritt said. “To do what he did today validates the postseason honors he has received.”
Junior James Haban birdied three holes on the back nine to turn in a two-under 70 and is tied for 40th after the first round.
“I played solid today. I didn’t make any big mistakes. I just tried to stay patient and was really steady” Haban said. “We had a good finish today, but we need to get off to a better start tomorrow. We fell behind the eight-ball to start (today). If we get off to a better start, everything will fall into place.”
Rounding out the Wolf Pack lineup were junior Chase Cooper, sophomore Matt Rippy and freshman Ryan Hallisey who are all tied for 108th after carding three-over 75s on Thursday.
The NCAA West Regional continues on Friday and Saturday with tee times starting at 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time each day. Nevada will tee off at 12:29 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, while final-round tee times will be determined by results. The top 10 teams and top two individuals not on those teams from the NCAA West Regional will earn invitations to the 2007 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships May 30-June 2 in Williamsburg, Va.
“Without a doubt, tomorrow will be the biggest round of our season,” said Merritt, the 2007 WAC Coach of the Year. “We’re going to have to bury it and have a good round. We definitely need to get off to a better start than we did today.”
Live scoring for the NCAA West Regional is available online at www.golfstat.com, while a recap of each day’s action will also be posted at www.nevadawolfpack.com.