Arizona State University Mens Golf Team
Last year was way out of character for the Arizona State men's golf program, and head coach Randy Lein would be the first person to tell you. Lein won't make excuses, but the reasons were numerous and also out of the ordinary as a cloudy day in Tempe.
'We had some things go against us last year and in golf, when you lose your best players, it can be tough to make that up,' says Lein, who has won the Pac-10 Coach of the Year honor five times in his 10 years. 'It seemed like we spent the whole time last year developing a lineup after a weird event or an injury. It was not your typical Arizona State season.'
The 2001-2002 season got off to a bad start in the summer, when 2001 First-Team All-American Matt Jones decided to turn professional. Brian Nosler, a 2001 U.S. Amateur semifinalist, then decided to concentrate on academics. But the biggest blow came when 2001 U.S. Public Links champion Chez Reavie missed all of last fall and only played in six events due to a serious hand injury. Reavie ended up with a good spring, although he never had a chance to get in the groove that led him to a fourth-place tie in his freshman year at the 2001 NCAA Championships.
'Chez's injury took a lot out of his game and it took a lot longer for him to recover than we anticipated,' says Lein of his junior from Mesa, Ariz. 'He showed, at points last year, he was coming back, but it was tough for him with the wrist hurting. When you lose what you think are going to be your top three players for different reasons, it can take its toll. However, we feel his game is back to where it was in 2001.'
Reavie's game was as good as anyone's at the end of 2001. As a freshman, he posted the second-best finish by a Sun Devil freshman since Phil Mickelson won the title in 1989 with his tie for fourth. He had a 72.58 stroke average and finished that year with his 7-under 281 at the NCAAs.
With Reavie out last year, one of the most impressive streaks in college golf came to an end. ASU had qualified for the NCAA Championships for 18 straight seasons, one of just four schools who had a streak of more than 15 heading into last year. It is not lost on Lein that it was a source of pride for the ASU golf program, a streak he had added nine years to since he arrived in 1992. ASU also has won seven of the past 10 Pac-10 titles, including six straight from 1995-2000.
'Every year, we expect to not only reach the NCAA Championship, but contend for the national title. Our goals are always the same. We want to use the fall to establish ourselves and get a set lineup, improve in the early spring and get ready for our Thunderbird Tournament.
'We expect to win out tournament, win the Pac-10, play well in the NCAA Regional and gain confidence as we head towards the NCAAs. We did none of that last year and we are not happy about that. This year, I feel we can get back to that. We need our seniors to make a big impact, and I think they will.'
The two seniors came into ASU with a lot of accolades and honors, but have not played well during the college season. Both Brady Stockton and Shane McMenamy have one more opportunity to shine.
'For Brady and Shane, this is their time to make an impact. They both are playing well and they have played very well in the past. We know they can step up and lead us back to where we belong. Their play this spring will determine our success.'
Stockton played in 11 tournaments last year and had a 74.55 stroke average, but it is his play this past summer that has Lein excited. Stockton won the 2002 Pacific Northwest Golf Association title on July 13 after winning six straight matches at Spokane Country Club. He also was a semifinalist at two major amateur events this year, the 2002 U.S. Public Links and the 2002 Western Amateur.
'Brady had a great summer and also played well in the fall. He has as much game as anyone in college golf. All he needs to do is work hard and stay focused to have a great senior year. I believe he will.'
McMenamy earned semifinalist honors at the 2002 Arizona Amateur, losing to eventual champion Ken Kellaney. He has played in 13 events in his three-year career after coming out of North Dakota as one of the state's best golfers in its history. He won the 1996 USGA Junior Amateur, becoming the first 16-year old to win the title since Tiger Woods took the trophy in 1992.
'Shane is much-improved and I think he will have a great senior year. He just needs to add some confidence and he will develop into the player I know he can be.'
Lein has a stable of five junior besides Reavie to look to for depth.
Phoenix native Michael Derminio was one of the top prep golfers in Arizona history and was the 1999 state champion. He is tall and very athletic, as he played basketball in high school. Injuries to his back and left knee have slowed him the past two years, but has shown flashes of what he can do with a title at the 2002 Scottsdale Amateur where he fired an 11-under 133.
'Michael is very athletic and now that his injuries are behind him, I feel he can help us. He has a lot of natural ability and is most capable of low scores.'
Another Phoenix product is Ben Flam. The junior played in seven tournaments last year and had two-top-10 finishes. His 73.77 stroke average was second on the team last year. Flam tied for 10th at the U.S. Collegiate Invitational and tied for ninth at the Taylor Made Intercollegiate.
'Ben played very well for us last year after he established himself in the lineup. He will be in the mix throughout the spring.'
Brady Stockton won the 2002 Pacific Northwest Golf Association title on July 13 after winning six straight matches at Spokane Country Club.
Juniors Brett Johnson, Nick Manthey and Kurt Mayr also will bring a couple of years of experience to the competition. Johnson played in two events last year while Manthey competed in one. Mayr has a solid amount of international experience and also won the 2000 Arizona Public Links Championship.
'Both Brett and Nick played well over the summer. Kurt has been a very good player and needs to get back to basics and have fun.'
The sophomore class has a lot of talent, led by area players Pat Moore and Jesse Mueller. Moore had a good freshman season last year, playing in nine tournaments and posting a 74.82 stroke average. His potential is great, as he fired a 62 in a practice round at ASU's Karsten Golf Course (which would tie a course record) and he also shot a 64 at Karsten in the second round of the Thunderbird Invitational on April 12. He finished with a 9-under 207 (67-64-76) and tied for fourth to give him a lot of confidence heading into this year.
'We didn't know how much Pat would play last year but with the three players out, we turned to Pat and he did a great job for us. He competed like an upperclassman, but he was only a freshman.'
Mueller became the youngest player to win the Arizona Amateur when he took home the title in 2001, and he followed that with a great initial season last year. He played the most rounds of anyone on the team (34) after competing in all 11 events. His best tournament was a 6-under 210 (69-70-71) at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, where he finished tied for 14th.
'Jesse played every tournament last year and competed very well. He had a typical freshman year where you have a lot of ups and downs, but he battled well and all those rounds will pay dividends this year. I expect great things from him the next three years.'
Kendall Critchfield, a sophomore from Red Mountain High School in Mesa also will get his chance after redshirting his freshman year and overcoming injuries last year. Mike Skillern, another sophomore, will get his chance as well.
Lein is excited to have freshman Gurbaaz Mann and Lenny Park on campus. Mann is from India and Park is from Korea, and both of them have the background and the talent to make an immediate impact.
'When you recruit freshman at Arizona State, you expect them to be able to compete for a spot in the lineup from day one,' says Lein. 'These two guys can do that. Gurbaaz swings as well as anyone and Lenny has an awesome short game. I look forward to coaching them.'
Lein is confident that last year was merely a bump in the road. With a healthy Reavie, and a confident Stockton and McMenamy, Arizona State is ready to get back to where it belongs.
'I am the first one to admit that last year was not acceptable for our program, and I have told many people that,' says Lein. 'We will get this back to where it needs to be and make sure last year was simply a bump in the road. We have the right kids and the right resources to put ASU golf back into the top of the rankings. That is our goal, and that is what it should be.'
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS MEN'S GOLF 2002-2003 STATISTICS
PlayersTourn.Rds.Avg.Top 5Top 10
Alejandro Canizares (5-10/Fr./Manilva, Spain)51571.2711
Kendall Critchfield (5-8/So./Mesa, Ariz.)51573.2700
Mike Derminio (6-3/Jr./Scottsdale, Ariz.)61874.6700
Ben Flam (5-10/Jr./Phoenix, Ariz.)92772.8900
Brett Johnson (5-10/Jr./Hilton Head, S.C.)1372.6700
Gurbaaz Mann (6-2/Fr./Chandigarh, India)2676.1700
Nick Manthey (6-3/Jr./Mesa, Ariz.)1373.0000
Kurt Mayr (6-1/Jr./Villach, Austria)1377.3300
Shane McMenamy (5-10/Sr./Grand Forks, N.D.)2674.6700
Pat Moore (6-1/So./Phoenix, Ariz.)3973.7800
Jesse Mueller (5-8/So./Mesa, Ariz.)82473.6702
Lenny Park (5-7/Fr./Sochko, Korea)2673.8300
Chez Reavie (5-7/Jr./Mesa, Ariz.)103071.4028
Charly Simon (6-0/Fr./Marbella, Spain)1374.3300
Brady Stockton (6-3/Sr./San Ramon, Calif.)61872.5621
**Note: Top 10 finishes include Top 5 finishes
TOPY Cup9/2-4Tokyo, Japan7th/Chez Reavie T-9th
Fresno State Classic10/11-12Fresno, Calif.8th/Brady Stockton T-14th
Duke Invitational10/21-22Durham, N.C.4th/Jesse Mueller 7th
Arizona/Ping Intercollegiate2/3-4Tucson, Ariz.T6th/Chez Reavie 9th
Taylor Made/Waikoloa Intercoll.2/13-15Kona, HawaiiT-7th/Chez Reavie 8th
USC/Southwestern Classic3/3-4Westlake Village, Calif.T-4th/A. Canizares T-13th
UNLV Toyota Championship3/7-9Las Vegas, Nev.6th/Chez Reavie T-10th
Morris Williams Invitational3/17-18Austin, Texas5th/Chez Reavie T-5th
National Invitational Tourn.3/30-4/1Tucson, Ariz.5th/A. Canizares 1st
ASU Thunderbird/SAVANE Inv.4/11-12Tempe, Ariz.1st/Stockton, Reavie T-5th
Pac-10 Championships4/28-30Los Angeles, Calif.
NCAA West Regionals5/15-17Auburn, Wash.
NCAA Championships5/28-31Stillwater, Okla.
First Look: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play groups
AUSTIN, Texas – Although professional golf’s version of March Madness is considered just plain maddening in some circles following the switch to round-robin play three years ago, it’s still one of the game’s most compelling weeks after a steady diet of stroke play.
With this week’s lineup having been set Monday night via a blind draw, we take a deep dive into WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play bracketology (current world golf rankings in parentheses):
Pool play will begin Wednesday, with the winner from each of the 16 groups advancing to knockout play beginning Saturday:
Group 1: (1) Dustin Johnson, (32) Kevin Kisner, (38) Adam Hadwin, (52) Bernd Wiesberger
Teeing off: This sounds like the beginning of a joke that’s made the rounds at the United Nations, but what do you get when a pair of South Carolinians, a Canadian and an Austrian walk onto the first tee? Group 1 and what, on paper, looks like it could be the week’s most lopsided pod with the world No. 1, who never trailed on his way to victory last year, poised to pick up where he left off.
Group 2: (2) Justin Thomas, (21) Francesco Molinari, (48) Patton Kizzire, (60) Luke List
Teeing off: This isn’t exactly an Iron Bowl rematch, but having Thomas (Alabama) and Kizzire (Auburn) in the same group seems to be pandering to the Southeastern Conference crowd.
Group 3: (3) Jon Rahm, (28) Kiradech Aphibarnrat, (43) Chez Reavie, (63) Keegan Bradley
Teeing off: The Asian John Daly (aka Aphibarnrat) will have his hands full with Rahm, who lost the championship match to Johnson last year; while Bradley may be this group’s Cinderella after making a late push to qualify for the Match Play.
Group 4: (4) Jordan Spieth, (19) Patrick Reed, (34) Haotong Li, (49) Charl Schwartzel
Teeing off: This may be the week’s most awkward pairing, with Spieth and Reed turning what has been one of the United States' most successful tandems (they are 7-2-2 as partners in Presidents and Ryder Cup play) into an early-week highlight. It will be “shhh” vs. “Go Get that.”
Group 5: (5) Hideki Matsuyama, (30) Patrick Cantlay, (46) Cameron Smith, (53) Yusaku Miyazato
Teeing off: Cantlay could be the Tour’s most reserved player, Smith isn’t much more outspoken and Matsuyama and Miyazato speak limited English. This will be the quietest pod, and it’ll have nothing to do with gamesmanship.
Group 6: (6) Rory McIlroy, (18) Brian Harman, (44) Jhonattan Vegas, (51) Peter Uihlein
Teeing off: We're going to declare this the “group of death,” with McIlroy coming off a commanding victory last week at Bay Hill and Harman being one of the Tour’s most gritty competitors.
Group 7: (7) Sergio Garcia, (20) Xander Schauffele, (41) Dylan Frittelli, (62) Shubankhar Sharma
Teeing off: Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson confused Sharma for a member of the media when he tried to introduce himself at the WGC-Mexico Championship. As a public service announcement: it’s SHAR-ma. You may be hearing it a lot this week.
Group 8: (8) Jason Day, (25) Louis Oosthuizen, (42) Jason Dufner, (56) James Hahn
Teeing off: This pod has a Presidents Cup flair to it, but Day and Oosthuizen should hope for a better outcome considering the International side’s awful record in the biennial bout.
Group 9: (9) Tommy Fleetwood, (26) Daniel Berger, (33) Kevin Chappell, (58) Ian Poulter
Teeing off: We showed up in Austin and a Ryder Cup broke out. Fleetwood is all but a lock to make this year’s European team, and fellow Englishman Poulter (23-14) has forged a career on his match-play prowess. For Berger and Chappell, who both played last year’s Presidents Cup, it’s a chance to impress U.S. captain Jim Furyk.
Group 10: (10) Paul Casey, (31) Matthew Fitzpatrick, (45) Kyle Stanley, (51) Russell Henley
Teeing off: Casey has a stellar record at the Match Play (23-13-1) and having finally ended his victory drought two weeks ago at the Valspar Championship the Englishman could likely seal his Ryder Cup fate with a solid week at Austin Country Club.
Group 11: (11) Marc Leishman, (23) Branden Grace, (35) Bubba Watson, (64) Suri
Teeing off: The best part of March Madness is the potential upsets, and while Suri, the last man in the field, isn’t exactly UMBC over Virginia, don’t be surprised if the little-known player from St. Augustine, Fla., stuns some big names this week.
Group 12: (12) Tyrrell Hatton, (22) Charley Hoffman, (36) Brendan Steele, (55) Alexander Levy
Teeing off: If Levy hopes to make the European Ryder Cup team he should consider this his audition. That is if captain Thomas Bjorn is watching.
Group 13: (13) Alex Noren, (29) Tony Finau, (39) Thomas Pieters, (61) Kevin Na
Teeing off: Finau and Pieters have the firepower to play with anyone in the field and Noren’s record the last few months has been impressive, but Na looks like one of those Princeton teams who can wear down anyone.
Group 14: (14) Phil Mickelson, (17) Rafael Cabrera-Bello, (40) Sotashi Kodaira, (59) Charles Howell III
Teeing off: Mickelson has been rejuvenated by his victory at the last World Golf Championship, Cabrera Bello is poised to earn a spot on this year’s European Ryder Cup team and Howell is playing some of the best golf of his career. Note to Kodaira, don’t try to introduce yourself to Lefty before your match.
Group 15: (15) Pat Perez, (24) Gary Woodland, (37) Webb Simpson, (50) Si Woo Kim
Teeing off: Perez explained that during a practice round on Monday he was talking trash with Branden Grace. Not sure Kim will be down for some trash talking, but it would certainly be entertaining and probably a little confusing for him.
Group 16: (16) Matt Kuchar, (27) Ross Fisher, (47) Yuta Ikeda, (54) Zach Johnson
Teeing off: If any of these matches comes down to a tie, may we suggest officials go to a sudden-death ping-pong match. No one can compete with Kuchar on a table, but it would be must-see TV nonetheless.
Randall's Rant: Hey, loudmouth, you're not funny
Dear misguided soul:
You know who you are.
You’re “that guy.”
You’re that guy following around Rory McIloy and yelling “Erica” at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
There was something creepy in the nature of your bid to get in McIlroy’s head, in the way you hid in the shadows all day. Bringing a guy’s wife into the fray that way, it’s as funny as heavy breathing on the other end of a phone call.
You’re that guy telling Justin Thomas you hope he hits it in the water at the Honda Classic.
There are a million folks invested in seeing if Thomas can muster all the skills he has honed devoting himself to being the best in the world, and you’re wanting to dictate the tournament’s outcome. Yeah, that’s what we all came out to see, if the angry guy living in his mother’s basement can make a difference in the world. Can’t-miss TV.
You’re that guy who is still screaming “Mashed Potatoes” at the crack of a tee shot or “Get in the Hole” with the stroke of a putt.
Amusing to you, maybe, but as funny as a fart in an elevator to the rest of us.
As a growing fraternity of golf fans, you “guys” need a shirt. It could say, “I’m that guy” on one side and “Phi Kappa Baba Booey” on the other.
I know, from outside of golf, this sounds like a stodgy old geezer screaming “Get off my lawn.” That’s not right, though. It’s more like “Stop puking on my lawn.”
Because McIlroy is right, in the growing number of incidents players seem to be dealing with now, it’s probably the liquor talking.
The Phoenix Open is golf’s drunken uncle, but he isn’t just visiting on the holiday now. He’s moving in.
What’s a sport to do?
McIlroy suggested limiting liquor sales at tournaments, restricting alcohol consumption to beer.
I don’t know, when the beer’s talking, it sounds a lot like the liquor talking to me, just a different dialect.
From the outside, this push-back from players makes them sound like spoiled country club kids who can’t handle the rough-and-tumble playgrounds outside their prim little bailiwick. This isn’t really about social traditions, though. It’s about competition.
It’s been said here before, and it’s worth repeating, golf isn’t like baseball, basketball or football. Screaming in a player’s backswing isn’t like screaming at a pitcher, free-throw shooter or field-goal kicker. A singular comment breaking the silence in golf is more like a football fan sneaking onto the sidelines and tripping a receiver racing toward the end zone.
Imagine the outrage if that happened in an NFL game.
So, really, what is golf to do?
Equip marshals with tasers? Muzzle folks leaving the beer tent? Prohibit alcohol sales at tournaments?
While the first proposition would make for good TV, it probably wouldn’t be good for growing the sport.
So, it’s a tough question, but golf’s governing bodies should know by now that drunken fans can’t read those “Quiet Please!” signs that marshals wave. There will have to be better enforcement (short of tasers and muzzles).
There’s another thing about all of this, too. Tiger Woods is bringing such a broader fan base to the game again, with his resurgence. Some of today’s younger players, they didn’t experience all that came with his ascendance his first time around. Or they didn’t get the full dose of Tigermania when they were coming up.
This is no knock on Tigermania. It’s great for the game, but there are challenges bringing new fans into the sport and keeping them in the sport.
So if you’re “that guy,” welcome to our lawn, just don’t leave your lunch on it, please.
How Faxon became 'The Putting Stroke Whisperer'
AUSTIN, Texas – During a charity event a few years ago Brad Faxon was asked what he’s thinking about when he putts. A hush fell across the green as everyone within earshot eagerly awaited the answer.
Imagine having the chance to quiz Leonardo da Vinci about the creative process, or Ben Hogan on the finer points of ball-striking. Arguably the best putter of his generation, if anyone could crack the complicated code of speed, line and pace, it would be Faxon.
Faxon mulled the question for a moment, shrugged and finally said, “Rhythm and tempo.”
If Faxon’s take seems a tad underwhelming, and it did that day to everyone in his group, the genius of his simplicity was on display last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Before arriving at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy ranked 124th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting, losing .1 strokes per round to the field. In fact, he’d missed the cut a week earlier at the Valspar Championship when he needed 58 putts for two days and made just a single attempt over 10 feet.
It’s one of those competitive ironies that having the weekend off turned out to be just what McIlroy needed. He went home to South Florida to work on his game and ran across Faxon at The Bear’s Club.
Although Faxon’s take on the art of putting was probably more involved than it had been a few years earlier, he seemed to have touched on all the right points.
“Freed up my head more than my stroke,” McIlroy explained. “I sort of felt like maybe complicating things a bit and thinking a little bit too much about it and maybe a little bogged down by technical or mechanical thoughts.”
Earlier in the week McIlroy had a slightly different take on his putting turnaround at Bay Hill, where he led the field in strokes gained: putting, picking up 10 shots for the week, and rolled in 49 feet of putts over his last five holes to end a victory drought that had stretched back to the 2016 Tour Championship.
“Just playing around with it. Seeing balls go in in the front edge, trying to hit them in the left edge, the right edge, hit them off the back of the cup,” he said on Thursday. “Just trying to get a little bit more feel into it and a little more flow.”
If that doesn’t exactly sound like an exact science, welcome to the Faxon way. In recent years, he’s become something of the game's "Putting Stroke Whisperer," which is no huge surprise considering his status as one of the game’s best on the greens.
Between 1991, the year he won the first of eight Tour titles, through 2005, the year he won his last, Faxon ranked outside the top 20 in putting average just four times, and he led the circuit in that category three of those years. But in recent years he’s come into his own as a putting guru.
“The first clinic I attended that a Tour player gave, it was Hale Irwin, and he talked about rhythm and tempo, I was disappointed because I wanted to hear more than that,” Faxon explained. “I thought there would be more technical stuff. I thought it was the default phrase to take pressure off the player, but the more I’ve learned about teaching the best players in the world don’t have many complicated thoughts.”
Faxon’s career has been nothing short of impressive, his eight Tour titles spanning two decades; but it’s his work with players like McIlroy and Gary Woodland that has inspired him in recent years.
A man who has spent his life studying the nuances of the golf swing and putting stroke has created a teaching philosophy as simple, or complicated depending on the player, as rhythm and tempo.
“He teaches me, which is a good thing. He doesn’t have a philosophy,” Woodland said. “I was around him a lot in 2011, 2010, it’s unbelievable how well he can relay it now. He has video of a million guys putting and he’s one of the best to do it, but he can show you that you don’t have to do it one certain way and that was good for me.”
For Woodland, Faxon keyed in on his background as a college basketball player and compared the putting stroke to how he shoots free-throws. For McIlroy, it was a different sport but the concept remained the same.
“We were talking about other sports where you have to create your own motion, a free-throw shooter, a baseball pitcher, but what related to him was a free-kicker in soccer, he mentioned Wayne Rooney,” Faxon said. “You have to have something to kick start your motion, maybe it’s a trigger, some might use a forward press, or tapping the putter like Steve Stricker, sometimes it’s finding the trigger like that for a player.”
Faxon spent “a good two hours” with McIlroy last weekend at The Bear’s Club, not talking technique or method, but instead tapping into the intuitive nature of what makes someone a good putter. Midway through that session Faxon said he didn’t need to say another word.
The duo ended the session with a putting contest. Putting 30-footers to different holes, the goal was to make five “aces.” Leading the contest 4-2, Faxon couldn’t resist.
“Hey Rory, after you win Bay Hill this week you’ll have to tell the world you lost to Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” Faxon joked.
McIlroy proceeded to hole three of his next four attempts to win the contest. “I’m going to tell everyone I beat Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” McIlroy laughed.
Maybe it’s the way he’s able to so easily simplify an exceedingly complicated game, maybe it’s a resume filled with more clutch putts than one could count. Whatever it is, Faxon is good at teaching. More importantly, he’s having fun and doing something he loves.
“I have a hard time being called a teacher or a coach, it was more of a conversation with Rory, being able to work with someone like Rory is as excited as I’ve ever been in my career,” Faxon said. “It meant much more to me than it did Rory.”
Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field
AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.
Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.
“I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”
Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.
“We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.