May 30, 2001
Teeing Off: Arizona closed a very successful 2000-01 campaign with an eighth-place effort at the NCAA Championships ... Along the way, the Wildcats won six team titles and seven individual medalist honors ... Included in that was the Pacific-10 Conference and NCAA West Regional team and individual sweep for the second consecutive season ... All five golfers in the regular UA lineup ( one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen) return for the 2001-02 season.
The Rankings: The Wildcats closed the year ranked No. 2 nationally in both the College Golf Foundation/MasterCard poll and the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Individually, Lorena Ochoa finished the season as the nation's top-ranked collegiate golfer in the CGF/MasterCard poll, while teammates Natalie Gulbis (9th), Cristina Baena (41st) and Laura Myerscough (83rd) each earned spots on the year-ending list. Incidentally, Arizona was one of just two schools nationally to place two golfers in the top10.
One More Rankings Note: The 2000-01 campaign saw Arizona continue an interesting rankings streak. By ending the fall portion of the schedule ranked No. 1 in the CGF/MasterCard poll, the Cats have now occupied the top spot in collegiate golf for at least a portion of the year in each of the last six seasons. This streak dates back to the 1995-96 season.
A Look at the Numbers: The Wildcats ended 2000-01 with a 295.12 stroke average. The squad posted top-10 finishes in all 11 stroke play events, including eight first- or second-place finishes. All told, the UA's average finish in those 11 events was 2.5. The team's six tournament wins in 2000-01 tied for third-most in school history, while the seven individual wins tied for the most in school history.
The Wildcat Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Lorena Ochoa Fr. 71.33 10/0 66 11
Natalie Gulbis Fr. 72.50 6/1 67 10
Cristina Baena Jr. 75.70 3/1 70 11
Laura Myerscough So. 76.10 2/0 71 11
Anne Lee So. 76.76 0/1 72 9
NCAA Championship Wrap-Up: Freshman Lorena Ochoa finished second at the NCAA Women's Golf Championships, losing in a one-hole playoff. Ochoa, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, posted a four-round total of 285 (-3) and was tied with Duke's Candy Hannemann after 72 holes. Hannemann earned individual medalist honors with a par on the first playoff hole. Ochoa and Hannemann entered the final round in a tie for sixth place, but each shot a three-under 69, the low round of the day, to earn a share of the lead in regulation. As a team, the Wildcats' carded a final round 298 (+10) to finish in eighth place with a four-round total of 1197 (+45). Only two teams ahead of Arizona in the final standings were able to post a better score than UA in the final round. Georgia fired a final-round 290 (+2) to erase a four-stroke deficit and win the school's first national championship. The Bulldogs 1176 (+24) total was three strokes better than runner-up Duke. Both finalists for the women's golf player-of-the-year award, Ochoa and Hannemann were two just three players in the field to negotiate the El Campeon Course Friday and post a score in the 60s and overtake third-round leader Katy Harris of Louisiana State. UA's Natalie Gulbis posted a five-over 77 in the final round and fell into a tie for 40th place at 302 (+14). The reigning NCAA West Regional champion carded just one sub-par round in the tournament. Laura Myerscough continued her steady pace, tallying a 75 (+3) to tie for 57th place at 305 (+17). The final-round 75 was her best effort of the week. Anne Lee shot a 77 (+5) Friday and finished tied for 84th place at 311 (+23), while teammate Cristina Baena wrapped up the competition tied for 92nd place at 314 (+26). The 2001 NCAA Championships were contested at the El Campeon Course at the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort. The course is a par 72, 6,119-yard layout.
Arizona All-Time in NCAA Championship Play: Arizona has appeared in 15 of the 19 NCAA Women's Golf Championships (1982-83, 1987-93, 1995-2001). In addition to national championships in 1996 and 2000, the Cats have posted 11 top-10 and eight top-five finishes in those 15 appearances.
Individual Success: No team has been better than Arizona when it comes to producing individual NCAA champions. Four Wildcats have captured the NCAA individual crown, which is tied for the most in tournament history. Susan Slaughter (1990), Annika Sorenstam (1991), Marisa Baena (1996) and Jenna Daniels (2000) each earned medalist honors at the NCAA Championships.
Postseason Accolades: Lorena Ochoa was named the 2001 women's golf player of the year by the National Golf Coaches Association. Ochoa, earned the Eleanor Dudley NGCA Player of the Year Award after finishing the 2000-01 campaign with a 71.33 stroke average and top-10 finishes in all 10 stroke play events this season. Ochoa posted 22 rounds at par or better this year and her opening-round 66 at the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational on Oct. 20 was the second-lowest round ever recorded by an Arizona freshman. She closed the 2000-01 season with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, losing in a one-hole playoff. Ochoa also earned the NGCA Freshman of the Year Award and first-team All-America honors. UA women's golfers have now won the Eleanor Dudley NGCA Player of the Year Award four times. In addition to Ochoa, Marisa Baena was honored in 1996 and 1997 and Daniels recognized in 2000.
Golfstat Cup Winner: Ochoa also won the Golfstat Cup for the nation's best scoring average in relation to par. Her 71.33 stroke average was not only the lowest in the nation this season, but was the lowest for any winner since the award's beginning in 1996. It marks the second consecutive season in which a UA golfer has posted the nation's best scoring average versus par, joining Jenna Daniels in 2000.
More All-America Honors: Natalie Gulbis also earned first team All-America honors. The Sacramento, Calif., native had six top-10 finishes to her credit in 10 starts this year and ranked second on the team with a 72.50 stroke average. She collected three individual wins this year, including the NCAA West Regional title. Gulbis, who carded a career-low 207 (-9) in winning the West Regional on May 12, had five top-five finishes in seven spring events. In the last five years alone, 15 UA golfers have earned All-America accolades.
Honda Award Finalists: Ochoa and Gulbis were rewarded for outstanding 2000-01 seasons by being named finalists for the Honda Award for women's golf. The freshman duo made up two of the four finalists for the award which signifies the top woman college athlete for that sport. Incidentally, UA's Jenna Daniels won the award last year.
On to the U.S. Open: Natalie Gulbis and Laura Myerscough didn't get much time to rest after the NCAA Championships, as both will compete at the 2001 U.S. Women's Open, which begins Thursday, May 31, at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. Teammate Lorena Ochoa is attempting to make the field as an alternate.
Ochoa on the LPGA: Freshman Lorena Ochoa did not participate in the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational with the Wildcats because she was in Rancho Mirage, Calif., participating in the LPGA Nabisco Championship. The Nabisco is one of the tour's four major tournaments. Ochoa led all amateurs and tied for 21st place overall with a 290 (+2). Ochoa fired rounds of 72-71-74-73 to finish nine strokes off the lead. In early March, Ochoa tied for seventh place at the Welch's/Circle K Championship, the LPGA event held in Tucson. She shot a 66-74-71-65=276 (-12).
Three's Company: In winning Rolex College Golfer-of-the-Month honors for February, Lorena Ochoa became just the third golfer in the history of the award to win the honor three times in one season. She was also honored for the months of September and November. Ochoa joins elite company, as Tiger Woods won the award three times in 1995-96 and Jenna Daniels won it three times last year.
Playing Time: Junior Cristina Baena is one of three UA players to compete in 11 events this year. The Pereira, Colombia, native ranks third on the squad with a 75.70 stroke average and has three top-10 finishes. Cristina, the sister of 1996 NCAA Champion Marisa Baena, was an all-Pac-10 honorable mention selection this season.
Picking It Up In the Postseason: While the 1-2 punch of Natalie Gulbis and Lorena Ochoa has been nothing short of outstanding all season long, combining to win seven of the team's 11 stroke play events this season, the pair may be even better in the postseason. In Arizona's first two postseason events (Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA West Regional), the pair finished 1-2 in both tournaments and were a combined 21 strokes under par.
Pac-10 Kudos: All five Wildcat golfers earned all-conference accolades in 2000-01. In addition to Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis earning first-team kudos, Cristina Baena, Anne Lee and Laura Myerscough each earned honorable mention all-Pac-10 honors. Twenty-four Wildcats have been so honored by the league since 1997.
Kraschinski Out: Sophomore Julia Kraschinski missed the last five tournaments of the season in order to receive treatment for a painful degenerated disc that has hampered her since the end of last summer. Kraschinski missed the Wildcats' entire fall schedule because of the injury and competed in only two tournaments during the spring season. She will undergo a cutting-edge procedure known as intradiscal electrothermy (IDET) treatment in order to improve stability in her back and decrease pain. As a freshman, Kraschinski competed in all 11 of the Wildcats' tournaments and finished with a stroke average of 74.88. She capped her initial campaign with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, trailing teammate Jenna Daniels by only three strokes. Arizona will seek a medical hardship year for Kraschinski following the completion of the season.
Hitting the (Record) Books: The Wildcats' two freshmen combined to go 11 shots under par in round one of the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational. Ochoa shot a 66 (-6) and Gulbis, in her first round of collegiate golf ever, checked in with a 67 (-5), both rounds rank near the top on the all-time record list for Arizona freshmen. Marisa Baena shot a seven-under-par 65 in May 1996 for the lowest round ever by a Wildcat freshman and Annika Sorenstam carded a five-under 67 at the Stanford Invitational in October 1990 for the third-best round by a UA freshman.
Golfer Date Tournament Score
Marisa Baena, May 1996, NCAA West Regionals, 65 (-7)
Lorena Ochoa, Oct. 20, 2000, Stanford Invitational, 66 (-6)
Natalie Gulbis, Oct. 20, 2000, Stanford Invitational, 67 (-5)
Annika Sorenstam, October 1990, Stanford Invitational, 67 (-5)
Princess Christina: Senior Christina Monteiro did not travel with the team to Estero, Fla., Nov. 10-12 for the Match Play Championships in order to remain in Tucson for UA's annual homecoming festivities. Monteiro was selected as the athletic department's nominee for homecoming queen.
Fall Season Wrap-Up: The Wildcats completed a successful fall season by capturing two team titles and two individual titles. Four Arizona golfers garnered a total of nine top-10 finishes in just four scoring events. The Wildcats opened the fall with a second-place showing at the NCAA Fall Preview, shooting 598 and finishing just three strokes behind champion Duke. The following weekend saw the Wildcats earn their first title with an 892 at the Comcast/Dick McGuire Invitational. Freshman Lorena Ochoa won the individual title with a three-round total of 212 (-7). In October, Arizona won its second team championship of the year by shooting 873 at the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational. Arizona's two freshmen, Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis, opened the tournament with rounds of 66 and 67. The Wildcats wrapped up the fall season with a sixth-place finish at the Golf World Invitational and a seventh-place finish at the CGF Match Play Championships. Ochoa again earned medalist honors at the Golf World Invitational. Junior Cristina Baena notched three top-10 finishes, including second place at the Comcast/Dick McGuire Invitational and third place at the NCAA Fall Preview. Arizona finished the fall season ranked No. 2 by the College Golf Foundation and had three golfers ranked individually in the top 15.
Wildcat Coaching Staff: In his first year with the Arizona golf program, Greg Allen led the team to six tournament championships, including the Pac-10 Conference and NCAA West Regional titles. His team has been ranked no lower than No. 2 in the country all year long. Last month, the Golf Coaches Association of America selected Allen to coach the United States team in the 2001 U.S.-Japan Collegiate Matches. Allen, who took the helm in July 2000, came to the University of Arizona from Texas where he was the assistant coach for the Longhorns' men's golf team. Allen helped guide Texas to the 2000 NCAA Central Region championship and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Allen , who graduated from Murray State University in 1993, is assisted by Amy Solfisburg. She is in her eighth year with the Wildcat women's golf program. Solfisburg attended the University of Arizona and is a native of Holland, Michigan.