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Utes Host PAC-12 Golf Championship at The Country Club

The Salt Lake Country Club will be the scene of the PAC-12 Golf Championship this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and while the University of Utah will be hosting the event it is not expected to be in contention for the title. The expected contenders are Stanford and Southern Cal with Arizona State and Arizona hoping to pull off a minor upset. Home course advantage will be helpful to the Utes, but finishing in the top half of the field would be considered a good showing.

Stanford is ranked fourth in the nation and is the defending PAC-12 champion, and Southern Cal is ranked fifth in the nation, just one slot below Stanford. Arizona State and California hold a 16th and 17th national ranking.

This conference championship will certainly feature some future PGA Tour stars and with good weather the event could attract a gallery of local fans.

Here is a rundown of the championship as written by the PAC-12 sports information bureau.

UTAH will serve as host of the 57th Annual Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships at The Country Club in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 29-May 1. The Pac-12 is led by a pair of top 10 teams (Golfweek rankings) in No. 4 STANFORD, the defending Pac-12 Champion, and No. 5 USC. However, don’t sleep on No. 16 ARIZONA STATE, No. 17 CALIFORNIA, No. 26 OREGON or No. 27 WASHINGTON as they look to find their way into contention … According to Golfstat statistical rankings, only five NCAA golfers post an average score under 70, and three hail from the Pac-12 – No. 1 Maverick McNealy, Stanford (69.04), No. 2 Jon Rahm, Arizona State (69.43) and No. 5 Aaron Wise, Oregon (69.77). McNealy, the defending Pac-12 medalist will look to fend off Rahm, Wise and the rest of the field to in an attempt to become the first golfer to win back-to-back conference titles since Arizona State’s Paul Casey won three straight from 1998-2000.

No. 4 STANFORD – Five top-five finishes for the Cardinal during the 2015-16 season … Junior Maverick McNealy (Portola Valley, Calif.) (69.04 avg, No. 1) has led the way with four tournament victories, giving him 10 for his career (one shy of the Stanford record of 11 shared by Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers). His stroke average leads the nation. Last time out, McNealy set a Western Intercollegiate record with a 16-under 194, breaking the 54-hole tournament’s best mark by five strokes at Pasatiempo Golf Club … In 27 rounds, McNealy has posted a score in the 60s in 16 rounds. Average score for those 16 rounds was 66.6 … Senior David Boote (Surrey, England) (71.07 avg, No. 35) has seven Top 25 finishes this season.

No. 5 USC – The Trojans have collected three team titles and eight top-five finishes this season … Junior Rico Hoey (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) (70.37 avg, tied for No. 9), sophomore Sean Crocker (Westlake Village, Calif.) (71.67 avg) have paced the Trojans with a combined eight top-five finishes … Hoey has posted scores in thes 60s in 10 of 30 rounds this season … Senior Andrew Levitt (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) (72.30 avg) and Jonah Texeira (Porter Ranch, Calif.) (72.30 avg) have combined for eight top-10 finishes.

No. 16 ARIZONA STATE – The Sun Devils finished among top four in nine of 10 tournaments this season … Senior Jon Rahm (Barrika, Spain) (69.43 avg, No. 2), junior Jared du Toit (Kimberley, British Columbia) (71.33 avg) and senior Max Rotluff (Dusseldorf, Germany) (71.37 avg) will keep Arizona State in contention … Rahm has finished among the top ten in all 10 tournaments this season, including his third consecutive medalist honor at the ASU Thunderbird Invite. With that win, Rahm now has nine career victories (trails Phil Mickelson’s 16, 1998-92) … Out of 30 rounds this season, Rahm has posted a score in the 60s 16 times.

No. 17 CALIFORNIA – The Golden Bears have eight top-three finishes in 11 tournaments this season … Freshman Collin Morikawa (LaCanada Flintridge, Calif.) (71.03 avg, No. 30) and sophomore KK Limbhasut (Loma Linda, Calif.) (71.43 avg), have each posted six top-ten finishes … Morikawa’s scoring average is third best among all freshmen, trailing only Florida’s Sam Horsfield (70.33) and Vanderbilt’s Will Gordon (70.89) … California won the Pac-12 title in 2012 and 2013.

OREGON – The Ducks have posted seven top-five team finishes in 10 tournaments … Sophomore Aaron Wise (Lake Elsinore, Calif.) (69.77 avg, No. 5) has six top-three finishes, including wins at The Jackrabbit and the Amer Ari Invitational. He’s finished second in his last two tournaments … Wise finished second at the Western Intercollegiate with a 14-under 196 and would have set the tournment scoring record at the Pasatiempo Golf Club, yet lost by two strokes to Stanford’s McNealy … 15 of Wise’s 30 rounds were in the 60s … Wise finished second (8-under) at last year’s Pac-12 Championships … Senior Zach Foushee (West Linn, Ore.) (72.47 avg) and junior Sulman Raza (Eugene, Ore.) (72.48) lend depth to the Ducks. Raza took top honors at the AirstreamAdventures NW Classic in March.

WASHINGTON – The Huskies own a three team titles (Husky Invitational, Gifford Collegiate, RedHawk Invitational), along with three other top-four team finishes. Junior Corey Pereira (Cameron Park, Calif.) (71.44 avg, tied for No. 59) paces the Huskies with a pair of tournament victories and posted two other top-10 finishes. Senior Jonathan Sanders (Chatsworth, Calif.) (72.20 avg) and sophomore Frank Garber (Kirkland, Wash.) (72.37 avg) have combined for five top-10 finishes this season.

UCLA –  The Bruins have posted four top-five finishes this season. Senior Jonathan Garrick (Atherton, Calif.) (72.04 avg) has collected four top-ten finishes, including a victory at the Erin Hills Intercollegiate where he posted a score of 10-under … Garrick finished in a tie for third (4-under) at last year’s Pac-12 Championship … Freshman Cole Madey (West Linn, Ore.) (74.00 avg) posted back-to-back top-15 finishes at the Gifford Collegiate and the Amer Ari Invitational.

COLORADO – Six top five team finishes in 11 tournaments for the Buffaloes, including three of the last four. Junior Jeremy Paul (Viernheim, Germany) (7-.45 avg, No. 14) and senior Philip Juel-Berg (Vedbaek, Denmark) (71.87 avg, No. 99). Each have five top-ten finishes with Paul collecting a pair of wins and Juel-Berg posting one win … Paul has scored in the 60s in 15 of 31 rounds, including seven of the last eight rounds.

OREGON STATE – The Beavers have posted four top-three team finishes, including the last two tournaments … Juniors Kevin Murphy (Rogue River, Ore.) (73.13 avg) and Conner Kumpula (Albany, Ore.) (73.93 avg) lead the Beavers … Murphy is coming off the best finish of his career as he placed second at the Macero Classic.

WASHINGTON STATE – Four top-five finishes, including a victory at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate … Sophomore Derek Bayley (Rathdrum, Idaho) (72.2 avg) owns a victory this season at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate, tying the tournament record with a three-round score of 12-under (201). Bayley finished tied for 15th at last year’s Pac-12 Championships.

ARIZONA – Sophomore Jordan Gumberg (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (73.63 avg) and senior Kolton Lapa (Mesa, Ariz.) (74.25 avg) each have a pair of top 10 finishes this season. Gumberg tied for first at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic with a score of 11-under (214). It was the first win by a Wildcat since Tarquin MacManus in 2011 … Lapa is the lone senior on a squad that includes five freshmen and five sophomores.

UTAH – Three top-five team finishes this season … Seniors Jose Pelayo (Temecula, Calif.) (72.89 avg) and Brandon Kida (Layton, Utah) lead a veteran Ute squad that includes five seniors and two juniors … Kida had his career best finish in his last outing as he tied for third with a 9-under 207 at the Ping Cougar Classic.