Feb. 22, 2003
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Teeing Off: Arizona plays host to its lone home tournament of the year as 18 of the nation's top teams tackle Arizona National Golf Club in the annual Wildcat Invitational. The tournament begins Monday, Feb. 24, and runs through Wednesday, Feb. 26. The Wildcats look to regain the championship of their own tournament after letting their three-year grasp on the title slip away last year. Arizona has won the Wildcat Invitational seven times in the tournament's history. Furthermore, five Wildcat individuals have claimed medalist honors in the tournament's history.
Schedule: Teams will get their first glimpse of the tournament course in a practice round on Sunday. Tournament play will begin with a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start, Monday through Wednesday.
Course: The 2003 Wildcat Invitational marks the third time Arizona has hosted its annual tournament at Arizona National Golf Club at Sabino Springs (formerly The Raven at Sabino Springs). The course is a par-72 layout that will play to a length of 6,134 yards this week.
Some Tournament Themes: Arizona looks to regain the title of its own tournament after its three-year reign ended last season... Tucson golf fans get their only chane to see the Wildcat women in action in town... Standout freshman Erica Blasberg showcases her talents to the home crowd for the first time in her career... With Pepperdine and Southern California joining the field, the nation's top four individually-rated players square off, causing the question to be posed--who will be No. 1 at the end of the week?... Another Arizona freshman, Cassandra Kirkland, makes her collegiate debut, competing as an individual... The Wildcats get their first chance to showcase their newly-renovated facility at Arizona National Golf Club... The Wildcat Invitational is the first women's tournament since the renovation and renaming of the former Raven Golf Club.
Tournament Field: Eight teams ranked in the top 25 of the latest edition of the NGCA Coaches Poll and seven schools in the top 25 of the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index will participate this week. Furthermore, six of the top individual golfers according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index will compete in the Wildcat Invitational. Top-rated Katherine Hull of Pepperdine will square off against second-rated Erica Blasberg of Arizona.
Participating Teams: Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Brigham Young, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Pepperdine, San Jose State, Southern California, Southern Methodist, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Washington
Wildcat Lineup and 2002-03 Statistics:
Golfer Year Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rnd. Events Erica Blasberg Fr. 72.28 4/0 69 5 Miriam Kraschinski So. 75.14 2/1 70 5 Laura Myerscough Sr. 76.00 0/1 73 3 Anne Lee Sr. 75.46 2/0 70 5 Whitney Welch Fr. 76.16 0/0 74 2 Julia Kraschinski Sr. 78.36 0/0 73 4 Katie Christy Fr. 84.33 0/0 81 1 Cassandra Kirkland Fr. competing in first collegiate tournament
Last Time Out at the Regional Challenge: Tournament officials were forced to cancel the third and final round of the Regional Challenge due to severe rain and declared second-round results would stand as final, giving Arizona a third-place finish in its first tournament of the spring season. The Wildcats' 36-hole total of 606 (+38) left them eight strokes behind tournament champion Pepperdine (598, +30) after the second and final round. Freshman Erica Blasberg earned her third consecutive top-three finish as she was tied for second place after 36 holes. She closed the tournament just one stroke behind individual medalist Katherine Hull of Pepperdine. Hull carded a 2-over-par 144 in the event's two rounds. Other finishers for Arizona included Miriam Kraschinski (152, +10), who notched her third top-15 performance of the 2002-03 season as she tied for 13th place. Senior Laura Myerscough tied for 22nd place, Anne Lee shared 35th place. Completing the Arizona lineup was Julia Kraschinski who tied for 80th place.
Last Year at the Wildcat Invitational: Lorena Ochoa broke the University of Arizona record for most career championships when she won her 10th collegiate tournament at the Wildcat Invitational. The sophomore from Guadalajara, Mexico, had competed in only 16 scoring events at the time, Ochoa used a final-round 71 to complete the tournament at 9-under-par 207. Arizona equaled its best finish of the season, posting a 19-over-par team total of 883 to claim a tie with Auburn for second. Duke took the team championship with a 54-hole team score of 12-over-par 876. Perhaps the most impressive performance for the Wildcats was that of Mar Garcia in her first collegiate tournament and first competitive tournament in nearly a year. The freshman from Castellon, Spain, took 13th place at 5-over-par 221. Senior Cristina Baena, also competing in her first tournament of the season, finished in a tie for 42nd place at 14-over-par 230. Also finishing in the top 25 for Arizona was Laura Myerscough, who completed play at nine-over-par 225. Julia Kraschinski rounded out the Wildcat lineup, tying for 93rd place.
Cats in the Polls: In the inaugural edition of the National Golf Coaches Association Coaches Poll, Arizona is ranked third--despite receiving the most first-place votes of any school in the nation. The Wildcats received 15 first-place votes and 898 points, while top-rated Auburn totaled 12 first-place votes and 914 points. Arizona is rated No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, with freshman Erica Blasberg the Cats' top individual at No. 2.
Wildcat Invitational Records: While there have been a number of memorable performances at Arizona's home tournament, the most outstanding have come in the last two years as the tournament was moved to Arizona National Golf Club (formerly The Raven at Sabino Springs). The tournament record for individual single-round score was set in 2001 by Stanford's Stephanie Keever when she carded a final-round 65 (-7). The record for individual 54-hole score is held by Arizona's Lorena Ochoa when she shot a three-round total of 207 (-9) in 2002. The record for Arizona National Golf Club is 875 (+11) set in 2001 by Arizona. The 2000 Arizona team, which won eight striaght tournaments and won the NCAA Championship, posted a three-day total of 857 (-7) at Randolph Park's North Course. 1999 saw the Wildcats shoot 854 (-10) at Randolph.
Fab Freshmen: Following the tradition of freshmen success in the UA women's golf program, Erica Blasberg has emerged as the Wildcats' most consistent performer and is rated No. 2 nationally. She joins other freshmen phenoms such as Annika Sorenstam, Marisa Baena, Natalie Gulbis and Lorena Ochoa as individuals who have won tournaments in their first season in the program.
Home Cookin': Whether it's home cooking, not sleeping in a hotel or simply familiarity with the home course, Arizona has posted some of its lowest scores--individually and team--at its home tournament over recent years. The 2002 squad posted its second best 54-hole score of the spring at the Wildcat Invitational. The 1999 and 2000 tournaments witnessed Arizona shoot a combined 19-under-par as a team.
Career Best: Senior Anne Lee notched a career best low round when she shot 2-under-par 70 in the second round of the Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational. Her 54-hole score (220, +5) at the Auburn tournament was only two shots off of her 54-hole career best, set at the 2001 Wildcat Invitational. By placing 10th at the Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational, Lee posted her second top-10 of the season and third of her career.
Tough Room: Freshman Erica Blasberg is around top-notch student-athletes while on the golf course and in McKale Center. But even at home in her dorm, Blasberg is still accompanied by another elite student-athlete. Blasberg shares her dorm room with Kim Glass of the UA volleyball team. Glass was named national freshman of the year and a second-team All-American for her efforts this season.
Depth Perception: One of head coach Greg Allen's toughest tasks this season will be to make sure the proper lineup hits the course each week. With talented golfers all over the UA roster, Allen believes there are eight golfers who can compete for first place any week. Through the fall season, three different Wildcats had earned two or more top-10 finishes, while two others had registered top-20 finishes.
Subway? No, Subpar!: In its history, the Arizona women's team has shot a three-round team total under par on three occasions. Two of those occured in Tuson at the Wildcat Invitational. In 1999, the team established a school record for team score when it posted a three-round score of 854 (-10). That record still stands as Arizona's all-time best. In 2000, the Wildcats shot 7-under-par 857 at the Wildcat Invitational.
Wild Weather: The high scores from Arizona's spring-opening tournament reflect the poor conditions in Palos Verdes, Calif., at Palos Verdes Golf Club. Heavy rain, strongs winds and harsh temperatures hampered play throughout the tournament and eventually caused the cancellation of the tournament's final round.
Myerscough in Malaysia: Senior Laura Myerscough missed action at the Stanford-Pepsi Intercollegiate beacuse of her participation in the World Amateur Golf Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Myerscough tied for 21st place individually and helped the United States' three woman squad to fifth place in the 39-team tournament. The Stanford-Pepsi Intercollegiate marked the first Arizona tournament Myerscough missed since the Golf World Invitational in November of 2000.
Doing the Solo Thing: With individual victories by Erica Blasberg and Miriam Kraschinski so far this season, 17 Arizona women have won medalist honors in the history of the program. Dating to 1977, those 17 golfers have combined for 59 tournament championships. The 2002-03 season is the 10th time in the last 15 years that at least two Wildcats have each won an individual tournament title.
Grand Opening: Arizona kicked off its 2002-03 season in style, taking the title at the Fall Preview. The Wildcats received consistent performances from each member of the lineup--helping the team to card three sub-300 rounds. The team only accomplished that feat twice in the 2001-02 season, at the PING/ASU Invitational and in its second-place showing at the NCAA Championships.
Kool Kraschinski: Sophomore Miriam Kraschinski won her first career individual title at the Fall Preview in September, the tournament saw her set a number of career bests. In addition to her career best first place finish, the sophomore from Whitianga, New Zealand shot her best single round score (70 in the second and third rounds of the Preview) and her best three-round tournament score (215). Her subpar performances in the final two rounds of the Preview marked the first time in her career that she has broken par.
On From the AJGA: Freshmen Erica Blasberg and Whitney Welch enter the University of Arizona with impressive junior golf resumes and are expected to have a significant impact on the Wildcat lineup immediately. Both have been named to the American Junior Golf Association's All-America teams on multiple occasions. Welch was named to the AJGA's All-America first-team in 2001 and won honorable mention honors in 2000. Blasberg was honored as an All-American by the AJGA three consecutive years; winning first-team honors in 2000 and second-team honors in 2001 and 1999.
Arizona Championship Streak: Arizona extended its streak of years in which it has won a team title to eight after it captured the title at the NCAA Fall Preview in September. The last Arizona team to go winless was the 1994-95 squad, which had five top-five finishes. During the eight-season streak, Arizona has produced two national championship teams, five Pac-10 titles, four NCAA West Regional titles and 35 total tournament championships. Included in that stretch was the 1999-2000 team that won eight consecutive events.
Wildcat Coaching Staff: A five-year college coaching veteran, Greg Allen has led the Arizona Wildcats to eight tournament championships in just over two years at the helm of the program. Included in the team's accomplishments under Allen's watch 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. In the summer of 2001, he paired with Arizona men's head coach Rick LaRose to coach the United States team to victory in 2001 U.S.-Japan Collegiate Matches. Allen, hired 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 1999-2000 NCAA Central Region championship and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. 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. He is assisted by Jody Niemann-Dansie, who was hired in July 2002. Niemann-Dansie played two years on the LPGA after completing her collegiate eligibility. She is a graduate of Arizona State University and was a member of the 1997 and 1998 NCAA National Championship teams in Tempe.