TUCSON, Ariz. -- Led by the stellar play of freshman Henry Liaw, the University of Arizona men's golf team posted a 14-stroke turnaround over the final 18 holes to win the 2004 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Golf Championship at The Gallery at Dove Mountain.
Liaw, a product of Rowland Heights, Calif., carded a 4-under 68, the low round of the day, to lead the host Wildcats to a final-round 365 (+5) and a four-round total of 1,450 (+10). Arizona erased a nine-stroke deficit entering the final round and defeated runner-up Arizona State (1,455/+15) by five strokes. UCLA (1,470), Washington (1,476) and USC (1,479) rounded out the top five places.
The victory was the fourth for the Wildcats this season and marked the program's third Pac-10 Championship since joining the league in 1978-79 (1987, 1991). The five-stroke win was the closest at the Pac-10 meet since 2001 and just the third margin of victory of five strokes or less in the last 11 years.
'It's a big win for us,' said Arizona head coach Rick LaRose. 'It means a lot to us to be champions of our conference when it's the toughest in the country. To win it at home means a lot as well.'
Liaw's efforts not only spurred the team on to victory, but enabled him to capture individual medalist honors. His final-round 68, one of just two under-par rounds on the day, gave him a four-round total of 279 (-9) and a four-stroke victory over Arizona State's Alejandro Canizares and Chez Reavie.
'The main thing was to win as a team,' said Liaw. 'We hung in there, played very well, and we're Pac-10 champions.'
Liaw is the seventh Arizona golfer to capture individual medalist honors and the second in the last four seasons. Of UA's previous medalists, Liaw joins Jason Gore (1993) as the only freshmen to accomplish the feat. Incidentally, each time Arizona has hosted the Pac-10 Championships (1984, 1994, 2004), it has also won individual medalist honors.
The Gallery certainly proved itself championship caliber as well, yielding just seven totals of par or better in the field of 60 for the tournament. All told, there were only nine sub-par scores tallied over the final two rounds of this championship.
The 72-hole Pac-10 Championships were contested at The Gallery at Dove Mountain, a par 72, 7,435-yard layout. The conference championship was determined by teams of six players with the low five scores for each round counting toward the team total.