Oct. 2, 2009
Teeing Off: The Arizona women's golf team will make its 23rd appearance at the NCAA Championships this week as the Wildcats play 72 holes of competition against a field of 23 other teams from around the nation. The Wildcats will be looking to capture its third national championship and first since the 2000 season.
About the Course: The Windy City Collegiate Championships moves to a new course this season. After being contested at the Evanston Golf Club a year ago, this year's event will be played at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill., a Tom Fazio-designed course that was named The Best Public Course in Illinois in 2008 by Golf Magazine. The 18 holes will be staged at par 72 witih a total distance of 6,539 yards.
The Field: Arizona is one of only three Top 20 teams to compete in this week's event, joining #14 Purdue and #17 New Mexico. Along with tournament host Northwestern, the rest of the field includes East Carolina, Illinois, Iowa State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, TCU, Tulane, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington and UNLV.
Tournament History: The Wildcats recorded their best team finish of the season in 2008-09 at the Windy City Collegiate Championships, finishing in 4th place while missing out on a runner-up finish by just four strokes. Isabelle Boineau was joined by senior Amanda Wilson in a tie for 9th place after shooting 8-over 224 for the tournament. Margarita Ramos was one shot off their team-leading pace while Brittany Benvenuto finished the event at 15-over par. Alejandra Llaneza missed the event last season to compete in the World Amateur Team Championships.
Matched Up: Play will begin via a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. (CST) on Monday morning with Isabelle Boineau on the first tee, Sherlyn Popelka on the second and Brittany Benvenuto on the third. Margarita Ramos will follow Boineau while Alejandra Llaneza will trail Popelka at number two. The Cats will be paired with a pair of Big Ten teams in host Northwestern and 2008 champion Purdue.
Cats in the Polls: The Wildcats dropped to #25 in the first regular season Golf World/NGCA Coaches Poll, released on September 30. However, the team is rated 16th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, a purely statistical comparison of all NCAA teams. Ramos is currently rated the 5th-best individual in the country with a 68.53 personal rating.
By the Numbers: Arizona took advantage of the wet conditions and the ability to lift, clean and place the ball in the fairway to place several of its members among the NCAA statistical leaders. Margarita Ramos did the most damage, ranking 1st in driving accuracy with a perfect 1.000 rating. She is also tied for 7th in par 4 scoring (3.90), tied for 6th in par 5 scoring (4.50) and subpar strokes per round (5.00), 18th in greens in regulation (.806), 4th in putts on greens in regulation (1.655) and tied for 8th in total short game (.800). Joining her among the statistical leaders were Alejandra Llaneza in par 5 scoring (4.63) and putts on greens in regulation (1.783), while Isabelle Boineau rated among the leaders in fairways hit (.929). As a team, the Cats are 7th in par 5 scoring (4.88), tied for 3rd in fairways hit (.871) and 5th in putts on greens in regulation (1.842).
Merry Mex: Margarita Ramos, one of two Mexican natives on the Arizona roster, made the Tennessee valley a third home last week as she posted her best two-round total since joining the program. Her 4-under 68 in the opening round was the lowest score for an Arizona player since Llaneza shot 67 in the second round of the PING/ASU Invitational last season. The school record for lowest 54-hole total is a 10-under 210 carded by Lorena Ochoa at the Oregon State Invitational staged at the Trysting Tree Golf Club, October 8-10, 2001.
Head Coach Shelly Haywood: Beginning her third season as the head coach and sixth season overall is Shelly Haywood, a former two-time Big West selection at New Mexico State. Haywood is a member of the LPGA, the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Committee and an honorary member of the Arizona Golf Association's Board of Governors. Haywood was named the LPGA National Coach of the Year in October 2005. She has coached five all-Americans and ten all-Pac-10 performers since coming to the U of A.
Coaches Corner: "I've felt that Margarita is ready to step up and be a leader and I think she showed that last week. She has that attitude about her when she prepares in practice rounds. She is focused and takes great notes and that's what you have to do to be the best. She has really stepped up and wants to be the best player in college golf."
Breaking In: One week after giving freshman Kyndall Ardoin her first collegiate start, head coach Shelly Haywood will send fellow newcomer Sherlyn Popelka out with the team to make her intercollegiate debut. Popelka, a native of Switzerland, was a decorated junior player who was chosen to compete in the Junior Solheim Cup this past summer. She won 2-of-3 matches for the European Squad in its defeat to the United States team. She is also the first player to sign with the Wildcats to have trained at the prestigious Annika Academy in Florida.
Scouting Sherlyn: "Sherlyn is a very consistent player and an excellent putter. She proved herself to be one of the top juniors in the country over the last several years. I really think she is ready to prove herself at the college level."
Starting Strong: WIth a first round team total of 286, the Wildcats fired their lowest round since tallying 282 in the opening round of the Stanford Invitational last season. The Wildcats were only able to break the 290-stroke mark four times, coming twice in that event as well as at the start and end of the NCAA West Regional in Tempe. Of the 10 rounds that were turned in, four of them were par or better and six were within one stroke of par.