May 23, 2002
SEATTLE, Wash.-Arizona sits 18 holes away from its third women's golf national championship after shooting a third-round 293 Thursday to maintain its lead over the field at the 2002 NCAA Women's Golf Championships, being held at Washington National Golf Club. The Wildcats, at 10-over-par 874 for the tournament, hold a two-stroke advantage over second-place Texas (876) and a three-shot lead over third-place Duke (877).
"We always want to be in a position to win on the last day of every tournament," said second-year head coach Greg Allen. "And that's precisely where we are right now. We have to play 18 more holes of our best golf to reach our goal."
The 54-hole total of 874 is Arizona's best of the season, surpassing its previous low mark of 882 at the 2001 Oregon State Invitational in October.
Leading the Wildcats is sophomore Lorena Ochoa, who stands in third place after posting a third-round score of 71 (-1) to bring her three-day total to 5-under-par 211. Ochoa is four shots back of the individual leader, Virada Nirapathpongporn of Duke (207, -9). Summer Sirmons of Georgia holds down second place at 6-under-par 210 with one round remaining.
After falling to 13-under-par for the day and slipping into third place after 14 holes, Arizona staged a furious comeback to retake its lead and finish the day at 5-over-par. Included in the late-round rally were six birdies and an eagle on the final four holes.
"I preach and I preach until I am blue in the face about finishing strong," Allen said. "They listened today. I'm actually more proud of the team today than I was after the round on Tuesday. They showed so much heart out there, the way the hung in there and kept battling. I know how frustrated they were getting by not making putts."
Leading the surge for the Wildcats was the top-ranked Ochoa who birdied the sixth and eighth holes, and eagled No. 7 to bring herself to 1-under-par for the day. In seven career rounds of NCAA Championships play, Ochoa has carded just one round over par, a 1-over 73 in the first round of the 2001 Championships in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
"I'm very happy for the team," the 5-foot-7-inch star said. "We need to play our best golf tomorrow in the final round. I know we can do it."
Tied for eighth place, Laura Myerscough continued her solid play as she shot even par in Thursday's third round. Her 72 brings her to 1-under 215 for the tournament. The junior from Charleston, Ill., shares eighth place with Angela Jerman of Georgia. Myerscough's 54-hole score of 215 eclipses her previous personal best score of 219, which she shot last month at the Pac-10 Championships.
Mar Garcia, younger sister of PGA star Sergio Garcia, notched a third-round 74 to stand at 10-over-par 226 good for a tie for 59th place. Garcia's 54-hole score of 226 is her best since she carded 221 (+5) at the Wildcat Invitational in February in her collegiate debut.
The final remaining golfer in the lineup from Arizona's 2000 national championship team, Cristina Baena is tied for 72nd at 12-over par for the tournament. The senior from Pereira, Colombia, shot 4-over 76 Thursday to bring her three-day total to 228.
Freshman Miriam Kraschinski continued to show improvement as she also posted another career best 54-hole score after three rounds of the national championship tournament. She carded a 6-over-par 78 Thursday to position herself at 230 after 54 holes. Her previous career best score after three rounds of play was 231 at the PING/ASU Invitational last month. Kraschinski is tied for 82nd place.
The 2002 NCAA Championships conclude Friday with the final round beginning at 8:00 a.m. Arizona will begin play on the first hole at 1:10 p.m. Lorena Ochoa, in the tournament's final pairing, will tee off at 1:50 p.m.