Arizona Wildcats men’s golf ready to make the most of return to NCAA Championships

When Arizona qualified for the 2022 NCAA men’s golf championships, it ended an 11-year drought for a program that has won a national title and finished in the top three four other times. The Wildcats were unable to repeat that performance in 2023, falling short at regionals, and after a very disappointing performance at the last Pac-12 championships, it didn’t look like a return to nationals was in the cards this spring .

Then, UA put up arguably its best team performance of the season, finishing 4th out of 13 teams at the West Lafayette Regional.

“Golf is all about the benefits,” sophomore Zach Pollo said. “You just have to be hot at the right time.”

Arizona will begin its 27th Appearing at the NCAA Championship Friday at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California. The Wildcats are one of 30 teams participating in the event, and everyone will play three rounds before the field is reduced to 15 for Monday’s fourth round.

The top eight after the final round advance to match play. The AU has never gone this far since the format change in 2009.

Arizona will enter the tournament unfamiliar with the course, as it was recently reopened after a major renovation. The team said it has watched some rounds of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships on the same course, but Thursday’s practice round will be the first time any of them have played there.

“Our team has played a lot in California, so we know how to play there,” the senior said Sam Sommerhauser said. “So I think we’ll feel comfortable, that’s for sure.”

AU coach Jim Anderson said his team had a habit in recent years of playing well on a course they were unfamiliar with. That proved true at the regional championships, when the Wildcats shot a combined score of 3 under par at Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, with Sommerhauser and junior Tiger Christensen both shooting below par.

“I hope it’s a sign of what’s going to happen this week,” Anderson said, in his 12th season in Arizona.

It’s the complete opposite of the Pac-12 Championships April 26-28 in Carefree, Ariz., where the UA was of 12 teams at plus-75 with everyone at 11-over or worse.

“We prepare for every tournament the same way,” says a sophomore. Filip Jakubcik said. “The Pac-12 just didn’t work out. The fact that we just didn’t have our week is just golf.