May 16, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
University of Wyoming senior golfer Mike Urbatchka shot an even par round of 72 on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional in Albuquerque, N.M. Urbatchka is tied for 18th in the field of 141 men's golfers.
Urbatchka, a native of Sheridan, Wyo., is playing in his first NCAA West Regional. The first round leader is Jason Hartwick of Texas, who sits alone atop the standings with a four-under par score of 68. Texas also leads in the team standings at 285, three-under par. The Longhorns lead Mountain West Conference member San Diego State by four strokes. SDSU opened with a 289 on Thursday.
"Mike (Urbatchka) wanted to come out and shoot a solid round on the opening day, and he did that," said UW men's golf coach Joe Jensen. "Even though this is Mike's first appearance in the NCAAs, he is a very mature golfer, and he showed that today.
"He goes into Friday's second round only four shots out of the lead. He probably needs to shoot right around par again on Friday to maintain his position. He's right where he wanted to be after day one.
"The golf course is playing tough. The wind came up in the afternoon on Thursday and made the greens really fast, but Mike dealt with the conditions well."
The top 10 teams and top two individuals, not a member of one of those 10 teams, will advance from the West Regional to the NCAA Championship. The 2002 NCAA Championship will be played May 29-June 1 at the Scarlet Course at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
After the first round there were six individuals battling for the two individual bids to the NCAA Championships, and Urbatchka was one of those six. Below are the six individuals who are fighting for the two individual bids.
Leading Contenders for Two NCAA Championship Individual Bids
Aaron Byers, Oregon 70 (-2)David Yarnes, Oregon State 70 (-2)Zach Doran, Ohio State 71 (-1)Mike Urbatchka, Wyoming 72 (Even)Ron Harvey, BYU 72 (Even)Jon Reehorn, Washington State 72 (Even)
Of the six individuals, Urbatchka and David Yarnes of Oregon State are the only two who are not a member of a team competing in this year's West Regional. The individual race can change dramatically every day, depending on which teams are currently among the Top 10 teams in the tournament. If a player's team drops out of the Top 10, then that player becomes eligible for an individual bid to the NCAA Championships at Ohio State later this month.
The tournament format for the NCAA West Regional is three 18 hole rounds for a total of 54 holes. Urbatchka is scheduled to tee off at 9:00 a.m. Mountain time on Friday. The final 18-hole round will be played on Saturday.
The West Regional is one of three regionals leading up to the NCAA Championship. The East Regional is being hosted by Georgia Tech University, and is being played at the Ansley Golf Club's Settin' Down Creek Course in Roswell, Ga. The Central Regional is being played at the Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Little Rock, Ark., hosted by the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. All three regionals consist of 27 teams and six individuals, and all three are being played May 16-18.
Urbatchka's participation in the 2002 NCAA West Regional marks the fourth consecutive season that Wyoming has placed an individual in the NCAA West Regional. Former Cowboy David Hearn earned bids to the 1999, 2000 and 2001 NCAA West Regionals, with his best finish being 17th at the 1999 NCAA Regional.
Urbatchka was named All-Mountain West Conference by MWC coaches on May 1. He posted five Top 25 finishes in 10 tournaments during the 2001-02 season, including four Top 10 showings. Urbatchka also led the Cowboys in stroke average this season at 73.34 strokes per round.