This Week: The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats travel to Estero, Fla. for the CGF National Intercollegiate Match Play Team Championships this weekend. The defending national champions are the top seed and will square off against eighth-seeded Georgia, coached by former Arizona head coach Todd McCorkle. The five members of each team will play singles matches against their opponents to determine the winning team. The winners will advance, while losing teams will go into a consolation bracket. Each team is guaranteed three matches. All matches will be played at the West Bay Club.
In-progress results will be available at the CGF's website, www.cgfgolf.org.
Last Time Out: Arizona simply didn't have it, as coach Greg Allen put it. The Wildcats finished sixth at the Golf World Invitational, shooting 888 as a team. Freshman Lorena Ochoa continued her outstanding first year, winning the tournament in a one-hole playoff with Katherine Hull of Pepperdine. The win was Ochoa's second of the season and her career. Freshman Natalie Gulbis earned her second top-20 finish in as many events, she wrapped up action tied for 16th with a four-over-par 220. Junior Cristina Baena, ranked No. 3 in the country at the time, tied for 40th by shooting rounds of 74, 72 and 74. Seniors Christelle Cuzon and Christina Monteiro also participated for the Wildcats, finishing tied for 36th and in 60th, respectively. The tournament marked Arizona's lowest finish of the season, thus far. Additionally, it was the first time since Sept. 26-28, 1997, that the Arizona women's golf team has finished a tournament out of the top-five.
The Lineup: Top Low Low Golfer Yr. Avg. Rnds. 10/20 Rnd. Tourn. Lorena Ochoa Fr. 71.36 11 4/0 66 211 Natalie Gulbis Fr. 72.83 6 1/1 67 217 Cristina Baena Jr. 74.09 11 3/0 70 219 L Myerscough So. 76.37 8 1/0 71 224 Anne Lee So. 77.33 3 0/0 74 228
The Field: Arizona is the top seed in a field that will feature seven teams ranked in the CGF MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings top-10. The Wildcats are the tournament's top seed and will face off against eighth seed Georgia in the first round. No. 2-ranked Duke holds the event's No. 2 seed and will play seventh-seeded Pepperdine in the first round of action. The tournament's third seed is Southern California, who will face sixth seed Louisiana State. Rounding out the tournament's slate are fourth and fifth seed Auburn and Texas.
Fabulous Freshmen: Arizona's freshmen tandem of Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis are already off to impressive starts in their initial campaigns with the Wildcat golf program. The two currently occupy the one and two spots on the team and are both highly-ranked in national polls. According to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, Ochoa is currently the top Division I golfer in the nation, while Gulbis checks in at No. 3. Ochoa is also in the top spot in the MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings and fellow freshman Gulbis debuts in the MasterCard rankings at No. 18. The two combined to go 11 shots under par in round one of the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational. Ochoa shot a 66(-6) and Gulbis, in her first round of collegiate golf ever, checked in with a 67 (-5), both rounds rank near the top on the all-time record list for Arizona freshmen. Marisa Baena shot a seven-under-par 65 in May 1996 for the lowest round ever by a Wildcat freshman and Annika Sorenstam carded a five-under 67 at the Stanford Invitational in October 1990 for the third-best round by a UA freshman. Ochoa has finished in the top-10 in every event so far this year, including two first-place finishes and a second place showing.
Ochoa's Accolades: The personal honors have begun to pour in for Arizona freshman sensation Lorena Ochoa. After a ninth-place finish in her first career collegiate competition, Ochoa ran away with the individual crown at the Comcast/Dick McGuire Invitational. She led the tournament wire-to-wire, shooting a four-under 69 on day one and wrapping up action at seven-under-par 212. Her performance earned her a pair of awards. Golf World magazine named Ochoa its Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 29. Ochoa was later honored by the College Golf Foundation as the Rolex College Golfer of the Month for September. Additionally, Ochoa made her debut in the latest edition of the MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings at No. 3. Ochoa continued her outstanding fall season at the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational by shooting a first round 66. Her six-under-par performance was the second best round ever by an Arizona freshman, behind only Marisa Baena's seven-under 65 in May 1996 at the NCAA West Regionals.
Cats In the Polls: The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings with 318 votes, 24 ahead of No. 2 Duke. Arizona occupies the second spot in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, trailing No. 1 Duke by just of a point. Individually, Wildcats are Nos. 1 and 3 in both polls. Frehsman Lorena Ochoa is No. 1 in both polls, while the CGF ranks junior Cristina Baena third and Golfweek magazine puts freshman Natalie Gulbis third. Gulbis is 18th in the CGF's poll and Baena is seventh in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings.
Princess Christina: Senior Christina Monteiro will not travel with the team this weekend to play in the Match Play Championships. Instead Monteiro will remain in Tucson to participate in UA's homecoming festivities as a nominee for homecoming queen.
Hello, Old Friend: UA's first-round opponent in the Math Play Championships, Georgia, is coached by former Wildcat head coach Todd McCorkle. This is the first time the Wildcats will face the McCorkle-coached Bulldogs. McCorkle left Tucson in June to take the head coaching job at Georgia, his replacement, Greg Allen was hired in July.
Injury Update: Sophomore Julia Kraschinski is still out of action due to serious disc problems in her back. If her condition improves, Kraschinski may return for the spring season. Kraschinski capped off her freshman season with a second place finish at the NCAA Championships, finishing just three strokes behind individual National Champion and teammate Jenna Daniels. Kraschinski competed in all 11 of the Wildcats' tournaments as a freshman and had a stroke average of 74.88.
2000 National Champions: The Wildcats topped off a dominant season in which they won nine tournaments by a combined total of 73 shots by capturing the 2000 National Championship in May. The title is the school's second in the last five years. Arizona turned in one of the most dominating performances in the 19-year history of the national championship tournament. Second-place Stanford finished trailing Arizona by 21 strokes, the third-largest margin in NCAA Championship history. Three Wildcat golfers finished in the top 10 at the championships, held at Crosswater Course in Sunriver, Ore. Alumna Jenna Daniels took the individual title with a one-under par 287, sophomore Julia Kraschinski finished in second, and junior Cristina Baena tied for tenth.
Wildcat Coaching Staff: Coach Greg Allen, who was hired in late July, comes 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. Allen graduated from Murray State University in 1993. Coach Allen is assisted by Amy Solfisburg who is in her eighth year with the Wildcat women's golf program. Solfisburg attended the University of Arizona and is a native of Michigan.
Reloading, not rebuilding: Arizona loses three letterwinners from last
year's national championship team, including 1999-2000 seniors Jenna
Daniels and Jill Gomric. But more significant is who returns for the Cats.
Junior Cristina Baena, sophomore Julia Kraschinski, and senior Christina
Monteiro are back, all three played in each of the Wildcats' 11 tournaments
last year. Together, the three averaged 74.66 in 1999-2000. Factor in
freshmen Lorena Ochoa, Nancy Abiecunas, and Natalie Gulbis and the return
of redshirt sophomore Laura Myerscough and Arizona appears poised for
another title run. Ochoa qualified in the No. 1 spot for the Wildcats
heading into the year's first tournament, the NCAA Preview. She reached
the semifinals of the 1999 U.S. Women's Amateur and the quarterfinals of
the 2000 U.S. Women's Amateur. Abiecunas comes to Tucson after a high
school career that saw her win five American Junior Golf Association
tournament titles and be named First Team All-American in 1999. Gulbis won
the U.S. High School Championship in 1999 by 21 shots. Myerscough comes
off a summer that saw her advance to the finals of this year's U.S. Women's
Amateur. Baena was named to the All-Pac-10 First Team, as well as earning
an honorable mention on the All-Academic Pac-10 team. Monteiro and
Kraschinski were both selected to All-Pac-10 honorable mention team.