Oct. 30, 2008
Teeing Off: Arizona completes its 2008 Fall schedule when the Wildcats head to the Sunshine State to take part in the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championships, the only event on the collegiate calendar to include the match play format. The event will be staged at the Ginn Reunion Resort on the Independence Course in Reunion, Fla. The Wildcats will then hibernate until the Spring portion of the schedule tees off in late February with the Wildcat Invitational in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico.
Double Dip: This week’s event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the Wildcats to compete in both medal play as well as a match play format. On Sunday, the team will play 36 holes of stroke play to determine seeding for the match play portion of the event. The top 8 teams after stroke play will be matched up in a tournament-style bracket and play 18-hole matches over the next two days to determine a winner. The teams seeded 9-16 will also compete in match play for the consolation championship.
Invitation Only: This week’s event is unique in that teams must perform well in its events to earn an invitation to this prestigious event. All 16 teams were ranked among the top 29 in the final 2007-08 rankings. The field includes Arizona, Alabama, Auburn, Denver, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Kent State, Michigan State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tulsa, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt and Virginia.
History at Hooters: The Wildcats return to the Hooters Match Play event for the first time since the 2006 Fall campaign. That event saw the Wildcats drop each of their first two matches and finish in 13th position. Arizona, seeded 6th in that event, lost its opening match to #11-seeded Michigan State, 3-2. The ‘Cats then saw their tournament come to a close after falling 3.5-1.5 to 14th-seeded Alabama. Brittany Benvenuto managed to get one-half point in her match against the Crimson Tide on the day.
Last Time Out: In eerily familiar fashion, the Wildcats shot an opening-round team score of 297, only to follow that up by struggling through the second round at 306 and ending up in 4th place overall. Arizona held a three-shot advantage over Michigan after the first round, but did not have one player shoot lower than 76 in the second round. The Wildcats rebounded on Monday and put together a total of 301, but the goal of winning their first tournament of the season was out of reach.
Cats in the Polls: The Wildcats jumped 11 places to 20th position in the most recent edition of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, released Wednesday, October 22. Alejandra Llaneza is the team’s highest-rated golfer with a ranking of #89 with a rating of 72.71. The Cats are also still ranked 20th in the latest NGCA Coaches Poll, which was released on October 15.
Let’s Hear From Haywood: “The first round was pretty much what I expect from the girls every time they go out and play. Even the 2nd round wasn’t that bad and we had the lead after 27 holes of play, but we played the final 27 holes at 21-over par. We just didn’t finish the tournanent well and we’ve talked to the girls about that this week. We talk a lot about being mentally tough. The competition is so tough that we have to bring it every week. It doesn’t matter if we’re tired, hot or hungry. Everybody is tired and hungry, so we just need to pus through those things.
Match Play Mayhem: Though collegiate golfers spend most of their time playing stroke play tournaments, the Wildcats will have the opportunity to play three rounds of match play at the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championships. Haywood did not seem concerned about the format, citing that a number of her players are accustomed to this format from their experience in junior golf.
World Traveler: Sophomore Alejandra Llaneza did not compete at the Windy City Collegiate Championships because she was representing her home country of Mexico in the World Amateur Team Championships in Australia. Llaneza was the low scorer for her country this past summer in qualifying for the event and repeated that feat as she shot +12 (302) to finish in a tie for 40th on the individual leaderboard. Her score helped Mexico to a team finish of shared 30th at +31 in an event won by Sweden at 19-under par.
French Flair: Much was made of the freshman debut of Isabelle Boineau last week at the Windy City Collegiate Championships and she did not disappoint head coach Shelly Haywood or her teammates. Boineau carded a pair of +1 rounds of 74 around a second round tally of 76 to share 9th place overall with teammate Amanda Wilson at 225. “Isabelle has more international experience than anyone on the team and it shows in her play,” said Haywood. “She is consistent and focused when she plays and that is great for our team.”
Senior Standout: Senior Amanda Wilson has done just what her coaches have asked of her thus far in 2008, providing the Wildcats with a steady, consistent presence on the golf course as she helps set the tone for the rest of her younger teammates. She has posted scores of 225 and 224 through her first two events. Though she would like to have trimmed a few shots off some of those rounds, her consistent play will continue for the younger players to know their team leader will provide the steady scoring needed to contned for tournament titles.
Youth Movement: Arizona knows that it has a roster set to succeed both in the present, but especially in the future. With the strong, early play of freshmen Margarita Ramos and Isabelle Boineau combining with sophomore Alejandra Llaneza, the Wildcats boast a talented trio that should be around for several years to come. “We know with Alejandra back in the lineup that she will bring even more consistency to our team,” said Haywood. She learned a lot playing in the international event and we expect her to bring those lessons back to her play this weekend.”
Statistical Standouts: The lastest Golfstat.com statistical report shows that the Wildcats are ranked 7th nationally in the one putting category measured - putts on greens in regulation. The team averages 1.886 putts per hole for greens reached in regulation. The margin between 7th and 1st is slim as UCLA leads the nation at 1.854.