TUCSON, Ariz. - The Christmas Break did nothing to cool off the University of Arizona's Chris Nallen.
The senior from Hackettstown, N.J., fired a first-round 63 to lead a field of 84 golfers Monday at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate. His 8-under-par tally helped Arizona grab the team lead after 18 holes of play with a 267 (-17) team total. New Mexico (275), California (276), Arizona State (278) and USC (280) rounded out the top-five places after round one.
For Nallen, it was his sixth consecutive competitive round in the 60s dating back to Oct. 13, 2003. In that span, Nallen is averaging 64.83 strokes per round, a figure that includes two 63s and a 62. His round today included an eagle, seven birdies and nine pars. UC-Irvine's Vinnie Poncino and California's Peter Tomasulo are currently tied for second place two strokes behind Nallen.
The event's second round was suspended due to darkness at 5:45 PM (MST). A frost delay pushed the start of play back 90 minutes this morning. The second round is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 8 AM (MST) with the third round following immediately. Most of the 15 teams in the field will have to play at least five holes to complete the second round.
Including Nallen, four of the five Wildcats in the lineup posted sub-par scores in the opening round and all four players currently reside in the top-20 places. It was the lowest tally in 12 rounds played to date for the Wildcats in 2003-04. Freshmen Henry Liaw and Josh Esler both set career lows in helping UA to the fast start. Liaw, a Rowland Heights, Calif., product fired a 5-under 66 and is tied for fourth place. Esler, from Wauconda, Ill., equaled his collegiate career low with a 3-under 68 and is in a five-way tie for eighth place.
Freshman Nathan Tyler, making his third appearance with the UA varsity, carded a first-round 73 (+2) and is tied for 45th place.
The Arizona junior varsity tallied a 16-over-par 300 and is in 15th place after the opening round. Junior Nick Juszczak and freshman Mark Lamb are tied for 28th place with first-round 71s (E). Ben Marsh, tied for 74th place at 78 (+7), Blaine Peffley and Kipp Riehle, tied for 78th at 80 (+9), made up the UA JV lineup.
The Wildcats also had two players in the field competing as individuals. Billy Whalen shot an even-par 71 and is tied for 28th place, while Brian Prouty shot a 2-over 73 and is tied for 45th place.
The 54-hole PING-Arizona Intercollegiate concludes tomorrow at Arizona National Country Club at Sabino Springs, a par 71, 6,793-yard layout.