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Playing With Fire
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/20/2013
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Andy Ewing

UA Communication Services

The newest addition to the Arizona women’s golf team may be the best they’ve had in a while.

Sophomore Lindsey Weaver has taken Arizona by storm, already winning her first tournament in early October as she took home the individual title at the Windy City Collegiate Classic.

The win wasn’t entirely smooth sailing, as she had to storm back from a rough start on her final round to take it, but that kind of poise may be her biggest strength.

“She’s a very strong competitor and has a strong personality” head coach Laura Ianello said. “Lindsey has the ability to win any golf tournament she’s in, because she has that fight you don’t see in everybody. She’s never going to lie down to any competitor.”

Grit isn’t a trait that can be taught. Some athletes have a burning fire for success while many others don’t. In a sport like golf it pays huge dividends. Golf comes with massive amounts of pressure where every flaw is amplified by the swing of a club. With so much on the line there’s no wonder so many others cave in.

Weaver has had her competitive fire for a long time, as documented by high school career in Scottsdale.

As a senior she shot a 59 on the Apache Course at Desert Mountain. The feat distinguished her as just the second female golfer in history to garner the sub-60 score.

The first? Fellow Wildcat Annika Sorenstam.

Sorenstam is one of Arizona’s most decorated athletes, winning the NCAA title in 1991 and going on to become history’s most successful female golfer.  Nothing speaks more to her impact on collegiate golf than the 2013-14 season’s conception of the Annika award, which will be given annually to the NCAA’s best female golfer.

“Annika is the best female player ever,” said Weaver. “To even be in the same conversation with her is unbelievable.”

Sorenstam needed nine years into her professional career to accomplish the feat, but Weaver did it in high dramatic fashion before even stepping into a college classroom.

Weaver birdied holes 15-17 as she walked up to 18, needing an eagle on a hole without a visual distinction between fairway and green.

“I had 180 yards to the hole, so I used my hybrid and stuck it eight feet from the pin on a tough green,” Weaver said of the approach. “I was surprised with how good it ended up. I was nervous on the putt so I had to step back a couple times to remind myself of all the putts I had made, and how confident I was. So I stepped up to the ball, hit it, and it went in.”

High-caliber performances like this bestowed Weaver her choice of top college golf programs. She chose Notre Dame, but after her first year decided that it wasn’t the right fit.

“After a couple months I just realized it wasn’t at all what I expected it to be,” Weaver said. “It was really hard to leave, but it was best for me.”

Starting the recruiting process over, Weaver had a much more salient idea of where she wanted to be.

“Arizona was the first call I made,” Weaver said. “Laura (Ianello) and I had a strong connection from the very beginning. We have a similar sense of humor and personality. I wanted to be at a place where the coaches would help me improve to another level.”

Ianello was eager for a second chance at Weaver and ensured the transfer wouldn’t slip away again.

“We worked really hard this summer to recruit her,” Ianello noted. “She committed at the end of July. It was a long process and we’re glad she’s here.”

Considering Weaver’s decision came two weeks before the fall semester began, she’s made the transition seamlessly, already infecting her teammates with her passionate competitiveness.

“She wants to win every time she plays,” Ianello said. “She pushes the other girls to be better.”

Weaver’s vehement desire to beat the best has gotten her far but Ianello trusts that there’s much more to come.

“She could be a champion, without a doubt.”

It’s not every day a women’s golf program gets a collegiate player compared to the greatest professional ever. Only time will tell if she can bring Arizona another banner but if anyone can handle the pressure of such a feat, it’s Weaver.

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