LaRose's impact was immediate. Believing that the Lady Wildcats lacked focus and intensity, LaRose had them practice with the men's team. Despite the demands of two jobs, LaRose and his two assistants, Tom Brill and Amy Solfisburg, also found time that spring to land two highly regarded recruits: Baena, who is from Colombia, and Krissie Register of Roswell, Ga.
The two players quickly turned the team around. At the '95 NCAAs, the Lady Wildcats finished 12th. The following year, despite the distraction created by team member Brenna Cepelak's well-documented affair with Nick Faldo, Arizona won the NCAA team championship and Baena won the individual title. Last year they were third. In the meantime, the men's team has finished 14th, 10th and fifth in the last three NCAAs.
"The players are my kids," says LaRose, who is divorced and has no children. "I'll do anything for them, and they'll do anything for me. That's the secret of our success."
Nick Who Makes a Name Down Under
Among overnight sensations, few have shown up at the top of a second-day leader board with a lower Q rating than Nick O'Hern. After the 26-year-old Aussie took a tournament-leading 11-under 133 into the clubhouse at last week's Australian Open at the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, his idol and countryman, Greg Norman, was moved to say, "I saw him up on the leader board and questioned myself, Do I know this guy?"
No one did. Since joining the Australian tour full time last year, O'Hern had made only two cuts and slightly more than $3,000. In Melbourne he was on such a tight budget that he carried his own bag during the first round. Only after shooting 67 that day did he get a caddie: his wife, Alana, who flew in from Perth and arrived just in time to lug his bag during his second-round 66.
O'Hern's lead was short-lived. He shot 74 last Saturday but bounced back with a 72 on Sunday to finish fifth and take home $42,000, increasing his career earnings by nearly 1,400%. Said Norman, who lost the tournament to Lee West-wood of England on the fourth hole of a playoff: "The young talent in Australia is very impressive right now." But no longer anonymous.
Harry Taylor's Just Wild About Q School
Most of the 168 players who advanced to the final stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament arrived in Haines City, Fla., this week with the frazzled look that might be expected from those preparing for the game's ultimate white-knuckle experience. Not Harry Taylor. He came to the Grenelefe Resort relaxed and eager for Wednesday's start of the 108-hole final, after which Tour cards will be awarded to the top 35 finishers. "The Q school is my tournament," says the 43-year-old Taylor. "It's the one event I play in every year and the only one where I've had any success."
Taylor has earned a spot in 17 Q school finals, which ties the record set by Mac O'Grady. He has earned his card seven times (most recently in 1994), which is also a record, but he has never finished higher than 140th on the money list and therefore has always lost his playing privileges. Still, Taylor adamantly maintains that he's "not some no-name loser who keeps going to the Q school."