Editor's note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today's list: The top 10 UA men's golfers of all time.
Arizona had modest success as a golf school in the 1960s and 1970s. Drue Johnson in 1969 and Dah Pohl in 1976 were first-team All-Americans.
The dam burst in the '80s when coach Rick LaRose assembled so many national-championship contenders that Arizona was ranked No. 1 during the 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2002 and 2003 seasons. The UA won the ’92 NCAA championship.
LaRose began to recruit Manny Zerman, the No. 2 player at University of San Diego High School, which is rare because the highest level of college golf rarely has a spot for those who didn’t dominate in high school golf.
But the No. 1 player at for the Dons was Phil Mickelson, who had committed to Arizona State. Zerman, too, seemed bound for ASU, but because of his upbringing in South Africa – Zerman moved to San Diego and lived with a sponsoring/host family when he turned 16 – Zerman required longer to become familiar with America’s academic system and pass his college entrance exams.
After five attempts at the SAT, Zerman passed. By then, LaRose had successfully persuaded Zerman to be a Wildcat, not a Sun Devil.
Zerman was an immediate success, as LaRose predicted when he said, in 1990, “Manny’s going to be an All-American; he’s as good as anybody.’’
Zerman reached the finals of the 1991 and 1992 U.S. Amateur, losing to his old high school buddy, Mickelson, in the finals both years. Zerman was the low amateur at the 1992 Masters and along the way became a first-team All-American in 1992 and 1993, winning four individual championships and the ’91 Pac-10 championship.
His pro career was a modest success; Zerman has since been a golf instructor and teacher in South Florida. He easily made our rankings of the 10 leading golfers in UA history; the list is based solely on the college careers of the ex-Wildcats and thus does not include PGA Tour winners like Jim Furyk, Jason Gore and Don Pooley.