March 10, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona golfer Erica Blasberg will make her first appearance in a professional tournament later this week when she participates in the LPGA's Welch's/Fry's Championship.
Blasberg, a freshman from Corona, Calif., received a sponsor's exemption to compete and will be joined in the field by six former Arizona golfers, including 2001 and 2002 National Collegiate Player of the Year Lorena Ochoa. Other Wildcats competing are Marisa Baena, Natalie Gulbis, Chris Johnson, Leta Lindley and Kathryn Marshall.
The tournament will be held at the Dell Urich Golf Course at Randolph Park in Tucson. Championship play gets underway Thursday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, March 16. 2003 marks the first year the tournament will be contested on the Dell Urich course.
Blasberg's appearance in the LPGA's annual Tucson event marks the third straight year in which a current Arizona Wildcat has participated in the tournament as an amateur. Ochoa received sponsor's exemptions in 2001 and 2002, finishing tied for seventh and fifth respectively.
Top-rated in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, Blasberg has claimed medalist honors twice in six collegiate events. She posted 54-hole scores of 211 (-5) and 210 (-3) to win the Stanford-Pepsi Intercollegiate in October and the Wildcat Invitational last month. After tying for 21st place in her collegiate debut, Blasberg has not finished out of the top three in the following five events. Her stroke average currently stands at 71.88, best on the Arizona squad.
Former Wildcats have won the title at the LPGA's Tucson event on four occasions. Annika Sorenstam took top honors at the Welch's/Circle K Championship in 2000 and 2001, while Chris Johnson won the Ping Welch's Championship in 1991 and the Tucson Conquistadores Open in 1984.
Blasberg's participation in the Welch's/Fry's Championship will cause her to miss Arizona's next event, the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational in Honolulu. The Wildcats are scheduled to compete in Hawaii on March 18 and 19.