Gauchos Look to Stay Hot, Travel to Orange County for Big West Championship

April 24, 2006

The Schedule
Monday-Tuesday, April 24-25, 2006
Big West Championship Tournament
at the Tijeras Creek Golf Club
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

Gaucho Update
UC Santa Barbara is playing its best golf the season as it enters the Big West Championship at the Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. The Gauchos had a season-best fifth-place finish in their last tournament, the St. Mary's/Merrill Lynch Invitational. Santa Barbara, in fact, has recorded four consecutive top-10 finishes and it has also finished in the top-10 in five of the last six tournaments.

UCSB Takes Youthful Five To Big West Championship
The Gauchos are taking a youthful group of five to this week's Big West Championship. Senior Greg Wells and junior Joe Ryon are the only upperclassmen in the group. Sophomores Ryan Keefe and Marty Melcher, and freshman Tony Verna round out UCSB's representatives.

UC Irvine Leads The Field At Big West Championship
UC Irvine, which is ranked ninth in the Pacific Region, is the top-seed at the 2006 Big West Championship. The Anteaters are also ranked 67th in the nation by Golfweek. UC Riverside will be trying to defend its 2005 championship, but the Highlanders have just two of the the five players who won the title back. Cal Poly is led by 2005 Big West Golfer of the Year Travis Bertoni, a winner of three tournaments this spring. Long Beach State won the league title in 2004 and have had five top-five finishes.

Ryon, Verna Lead The Way
Junior Joe Ryon is the only UCSB player to have played in every tournament this season. He has played 26 rounds in 2005-06 and he is averaging 73.46 shots per round. Ryon has three top-20 finishes to his credit, all in his last three appearances. Tony Verna, only a freshman, has played in all but one tournament this year, a total of 23 rounds. He has a pair of top-20 finishes and actually paces the team in stroke average at 73.17 per round.

Keefe Gets Hot At The Right Time
Sophomore Ryan Keefe hasn't had a great season, but he picked the right time to have his best tournament ever. Keefe has played in four tournaments this season, 11 total rounds. He averages 75.18 shots per round. Entering the St. Mary's/Merrill Lynch Invitational, he had a season-best 55th-place finish at The Prestige at PGA West. At the St. Mary's/Merrill Lunch Invite, Keefe shot a 224 and tied for eighth-place. The eighth-place finish was the best by a Gaucho this season. In fact, it is the only top-10 finish by a UCSB player in 2005-06.