By Ron Balicki
At the start of the 2002-03 season, Arizona was considered a team that could challenge for the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship.
The Wildcats were returning a solid lineup, headed by reigning U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes, the No. 3 player in the Golfweek/Titleist Amateur Rankings. Also back was Chris Nallen, the No. 7-ranked amateur, as well as Reid Hatley, Nathan Lashley, Kipp Riehle and Brian Woolf. There also were solid incoming freshmen such as Blaine Peffley and Zack Amole.
To all that depth you now can add Andrew Medley, a fifth-year senior who transferred to Arizona from Mississippi to play his final semester. Medley was a starter for the Rebels for three years, and in 2001 captured the Eastern Amateur.
It didn’t take long for Medley to make his mark. In his first start, he helped lead Arizona to victory Feb. 4 at the Ping/Arizona Intercollegiate at Arizona National Golf Club.
Medley finished 19th individually, behind Nallen (second), Barnes (tied for third) and Hatley (tied for 10th). But all three of Medley’s rounds counted, including a crucial 68 as the Wildcats charged from third to first with a final-round best of 8-under 276. Arizona took the team title with a 23-under 829, two shots better than UCLA.
Not only was it the first time Medley had been a part of a tournament-winning team, his effort gave the Wildcats their first victory since they captured the U.S. Intercollegiate in spring 2001. In the fall, without Medley, the Wildcats had a pair of third places, but no team titles. This victory also was Arizona’s first triumph in its own event since 1996.
“We have good chemistry in all 10 players,” said Arizona coach Rick LaRose. “The addition of Andrew helps give us stability. He’s experienced and a proven player. He’s made everyone else step it up a little.
“Add Andrew to a lineup that already has Ricky, Chris and Reid, and, yes, I’m excited about this spring. I like our lineup, I like our prospects, I like our future.”
Said Medley: “Arizona has a good team and I just hope I can in some way help make it a little better.”
If the Wildcats’ first tournament is any indication, he already has.