Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Women's Golf Starts Spring Season
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 03, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Teeing Off: The Arizona women’s golf team will take the course Feb. 7-9 in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.


A Look At The Tournament: The Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge is hosted by Ohio State University. The tournament has been in existence for 10 years. Arizona was victorious in 2000 and 2001, when they earned team medalist honors. Individually, Natalie Gulbis and  Lorena Ochoa were tournament champions in 2001 and 2002, respectively.


The Course: The 2005 Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge will be contested at the Palos Verdes Golf Club. Designed by William “Belly” Bill and George Thomas, Jr., the course is a work of art. The rolling hills and barrancas give the course ultimate possibilities. The course is a Par 71 set across 5,912 yards.


The Field: Arizona State, ARIZONA, Duke, Florida, Michigan State, New Mexico, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Stanford, Southern California, Texas, UCLA, UNLV and Washington.


The Schedule: The tournament will run for three days, one round each day, with 18 holes contested daily for a total 54 holes.


Last Time on the Course: The Arizona women’s golf team finished in third place after defeating Oklahoma State, 3-2-0 in the last round of the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship in Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla. Arizona went 3-1 on the entire tournament, defeating UCLA, Washington and Oklahoma State. They fell to No.1 Duke, however, in the third round.


Wildcat Lineup:

Golfer                          Year            Stroke Avg.     Top 10/20    Low Rnd.     Events

Lani Elston                    Jr.               75.22                0/1              72                  5

Miriam Kraschinski         Sr.              75.75                0/0              70                  5

Mar Garcia                    Sr.               76.75                0/0              71                  5

Whitney Welch              Jr.                76.91               0/0               73                  5         

Cassandra Kirkland        Jr.                 73.33              2/0               67                  5


Last Year at Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge: After its final day of competition, the Arizona women’s golf team finished in fourth place at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.  The Wildcats shot a 67-over-par 919 to finish 43 strokes behind tournament champion UCLA after the Bruins shot a 24-over-par 876. New Mexico (908) and Ohio State (914) occupied second and third places, respectively.  Southern California shot a 69-over-par 921 to round out the top five.

Individually, Arizona’s Erica Blasberg tied for 11th place with California’s Claire Dury after shooting a 224 (+11). Cassandra Kirkland made her way back into the top 20 by carding a 226 (+13) to land her tied for 13th. Lani Elston tied for 38th after shooting a 21-over-par 234.  Mar Garcia tied for 49th place after shooting a 26-over-par 239 for the tournament, while Miriam Kraschinski shot a 36-over-par 249 for 72nd place. Also competing for Arizona as an individual was Whitney Welch, who took 77th place after carding a 42-over-par 255.


Allen’s thoughts on outlook for the spring season: “We need to be more consistent in the spring.  We got off to good starts in the fall, but couldn't back it up with a good second round.”


Fall Review: The fall season for the Arizona women’s golf team didn’t start how Head Coach Greg Allen had envisioned it. “Losing Erica Blasberg in the middle of the summer was really bad timing because it didn't allow us any time to bring someone in,” Allen said. The team struggled early without Blasberg, placing outside the top 10 in two consecutive tournaments. The high point  of the fall season came at the Hooter’s Collegiate Matchplay, where the Wildcats knocked off three Top 10 teams.

“Although our finishes weren't up to Arizona standards, we did end the fall season on a high note, playing the way I know this team can play.  Winning three out of four matches really has given this team some confidence that will hopefully still be with us in February,” Allen said. 

Individually, the five continual starting line-up of seniors Mar Garcia and Miriam Kraschink, and  juniors Cassandra Kirkland, Lani Elston and Whitney Welch, all shined at different parts of the season. Garcia and Kraschinski both had an excellent trip to Japan for the Topy Cup. Each shot a round of 71 to place within the Top 20. Kraschinski continued her success at the Stanford-Pepsi Invitational, where she shot a season-low round of 70 in the first round.

“Mar and Miriam both improved their stroke averages from a year ago and they know what it takes to win a Pac-10 Championship. They would love nothing more than to finish their Wildcat careers they way they started them,” Allen commented.

All three juniors have really improved their games. Whitney Welch came out the first round of the NCAA Fall Preview and shot a season-low round of 73. “Whitney continues to get closer and closer to playing the way she did during her junior golf days. You can see her confidence grow with every swing,” Allen said. “Her last swing at the Match Play was one of the most clutch shots I have ever seen her hit.  She hit a 7-iron to about eight feet and made the putt for birdie to give us a 3-2 win against Oklahoma State.”

After coming off a phenomenal end to her sophomore season, junior Lani Elston still ranks in the top two on the team with a 75.22 stroke average. Elston fired a season-low round of 72 in the final round of Rudolph Mason Invitational, helping propel her to a tie for 16th with a 221 (+5). Elston suffered a set back in the Stanford-Pepsi Invitational, when she had to withdraw from competition due to persistent back pain. She was the first Wildcat to withdraw since Julia Kraschinksi in the 2003 Wildcat Invitational. “With a healthy back, Lani is one of our most consistent players,” Allen said. “She hits as many greens in regulation as anyone in the country and is very capable of giving us another score around par.”

Consistently playing well, France native Cassandra Kirkland has had a record-setting junior year. During her record-setting performance at the Stanford-Pepsi Invitational, Kirkland shot a career-low round of 67. Kirkland joined former Wildcat greats such as Annika Sorenstam and Natalie Gulis to card a round of 67 at the Stanford-Pepsi Invite. In addition to her record-setting round, Kirkland also shot a 207, her career low-tournament, which etched her name in the record books next to the likes of Lorena Ochoa, Jenna Daniels, Natalie Gulbis and Leta Lindley.

“Cassandra really stepped it up at Stanford this year showed that she is very capable of giving us those under-par scores that we got from Erica [Blasberg],” Allen said. “If she can come out in the spring and do the things she did at Stanford, she will be on her way to being an All-American and helping this team have a chance to win.”

As the team finds the consistency needed to make a run at the NCAA Championship this year, they will build off their performance of the at the Pepsi-Stanford Invitational, where they shot a 887 (+47), and the Hooters Collegiate Match Play, where they went 3-1 and knocked off the No. 2, 4 and 8 teams in the nation. “When three or four play well at the same time, we can compete with anyone in the country,” Allen said.


Scorching Score: Arizona had four golfers go 3-1 in match play action at the Hooters Collegiate   match play in mid-November. Senior Mar Garcia, and juniors Cassandra Kirkland, Whitney Welch and Lani Elston were all 3-1 on the tournament. This is comparable to last season’s match play when only Erica Blasberg and Kraschinski went 3-1.


Wildcat Coaching Staff:  A seven-year college coaching veteran, Greg Allen has led the Arizona Wildcats to nine tournament championships in just five years at the helm of the program. Included in the team’s accomplishments under Allen are the 2001 and 2002 Pac-10 Conference Championships, a national runner-up finish and a 20-stroke victory at the 2001 NCAA West Regional. Allen, hired in July 2000, came to Arizona from the University of Texas, where he was the assistant coach for the Longhorn’s men’s golf team. Prior to coaching at Texas, Allen served as Director of Tournament Operations with the American Junior Golf Association. Allen graduated from Murray State University in 1993.

Shelly Haywood, hired in September 2004, assists him. Haywood played her collegiate years at New Mexico State, where she was a two-time All-Big West Conference performer. For the past 11 years, Haywood was the assistant golf professional at Tucson Country Club.


2004-05 Women’s Golf Roster


NAME                           CLASS                         HOMETOWN

Katie Christy                 Senior                           Tucson, Ariz.

Lani Elston                    Junior ?- RS                   Spokane, Wash.

Mar Garcia                    Senior                           Borriol, Spain

Rachel Gavin                 Sophomore ?- RS            Tucson, Ariz.

Cassandra Kirkland        Junior                            Saint-Nom-La-Breteche, France

Miriam Kraschinski        Senior                            Whitianga, New Zealand

Whitney Welch              Junior                            Las Vegas, Nev.


Greg Allen, Head Coach

Shelly Haywood, Assistant Coach

Tim Lynch, Manager