No. 1 Women's Golf to Seek Their Seventh NCAA Championship
May 15, 2009
This Week --
Riding on a two-tournament win streak, the top-ranked Arizona State women's golf team will head to their 18th consecutive NCAA Championships. The NCAA Championships will be held May 19-22 at the par 72, 6,443-yard Caves Valley Golf Club in Owing Mills, Md. The NCAA Championship field includes: No. 1 Arizona State, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 USC, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Wake Forest, No. 6 Virginia, No. 7 Alabama, No. 9 Purdue, No. 10 LSU, No. 11 Duke, No. 12 North Carolina, No. 13 Denver, No. 14 Pepperdine, No. 15 Georgia, No. 17 Arizona, No. 21 Michigan State, No. 22 New Mexico, No. 24 Tennessee, No. 26 Ohio State, No. 28 Tulane, No. 29 UC Irvine and No. 31 TCU. (Rankings by Golfweek) Individuals Kendall Dye (Oklahoma), Alice Kim (UC Davis), Stephanie Connelly (UCF), Cindy LaCrosse (Louisville), Marina Alex (Vanderbilt) and Cathryn Bristow (Oregon) will be competing as individuals. The tournament begins at 7:30 a.m. ET each day. The Sun Devils will be paired with NCAA East Regional Champion Denver and NCAA Central Regional Champion UCLA for the first two rounds. They will tee off at noon on the first tee on Tuesday and 7:30 a.m. on Hole 10 the second round. The third and fourth rounds will be paired according to team finishes after the first two rounds. Live stats will be available on www.golfstat.com. The final two rounds will be streamed on www.ncaa.com with coverage on holes 16, 17 and 18.
ASU Against the Field --
ASU has a 69-8-1 record against the NCAA field. ASU and UCLA, who have been battling for the top spot on the polls all season long, are currently tied in head-to-head competition at 3-3 with ASU taking the last two. The Sun Devils have a 6-1-1 record against USC and a 3-2 record to both Purdue and Oklahoma State. The Sun Devils are perfect against LSU (2-0), Pepperdine (5-0), Arizona (7-0), Texas (3-0), TCU (1-0), UC Irvine (1-0), Denver (4-0), Alabama (4-0), Virginia (2-0), Wake Forest (3-0) Tennessee (3-0), Georgia (2-0), UT Chattanooga (4-0), New Mexico (3-0) Duke (5-0), North Carolina (1-0), Ohio State (1-0), Tulane (2-0) and Michigan State (1-0).
At Last Year's NCAA Championships --
Azahara Munoz became ASU's ninth NCAA Champion as she made a 25-foot putt to win the playoff hole over UCLA's Tiffany Joh. As a team, the Sun Devils narrowly missed bringing home a trophy as they placed fifth.
The Sun Devils will be making their trip to their 18th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships. This is currently the nation's longest active streak, as Stanford's streak ended at 19 last season when they failed to make the NCAAs.
How the West was Won
The Sun Devils had a record-setting performance at the West Regional. Held at their home golf course, the Sun Devils wasted no time jumping to a 15-stroke lead after the first round and setting a new 18-hole school record of 15-under 273. The Sun Devils continued to roll, setting a school-record 22-under 842 (273-283-286) to win the tournament by 19 strokes. The previous team 18-hole score (vs. par) record was 14-under 274 at the 2006 Wildcat Invitational.
Did You Know?
The only other times the Sun Devils have won both the Pac-10 Championship and their NCAA Regional were in 1993 and 1995.
Last Time at Caves Valley
Although they will have a much different lineup at the NCAA Championships, the Sun Devils won the NCAA Fall Preview held at the Caves Valley G.C. this past fall. The team earned shot an 8-over 872 (295-291-286) to win the tournament by eight strokes.
Five Wins --
The Sun Devils have won five tournaments this season. The team started the 2008-09 campaign with a win at the NCAA Fall Preview and ended the fall season by taking the team title at The Derby. The Sun Devils picked up where they left off in February when they won the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. Recently the Sun Devils won their eighth Pac-10 Title. The Sun Devils made a statement at the NCAA West Regional by taking home the team competition by 19 strokes.
Star Freshman --
She may only be a freshman, and may have only been here since January, but Carlota Ciganda already has more tournament wins than any other Sun Devil on the current roster. Ciganda claimed her first medalist honor at the Pac-10 Championship when she defeated teammate Jennifer Osborn and USC's Jennifer Song in a playoff. Ciganda followed that victory up with a win at the NCAA West Regional. The Spaniard shot 10-under 206 to claim the individual title. Her score is currently the fourth best ever shot by a female Sun Devil.
Congrats Graduate! --
Arizona State senior Azahara Munoz is the women's golf team latest ASU graduate. Munoz recently earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Munoz is a three-time Academic All-American selection by the NGCA and was named an Academic All-American last season by ESPN the Magazine. Munoz, who carries a 3.96 grade point average, was honored with the Edith Cummings Munson Award last season, which is given to the All-American with the highest GPA.
A Lineup of Champions --
Each golfer on the Sun Devils lineup has won at least one tournament in their collegiate career. Osborn took first at the 2005 Edean Ihlanfedt her freshman year. Azahara Munoz won last year's NCAA Championships. While at Oklahoma State, Jaclyn Sweeney took first at the Big 12 Championships last season. This season, Juliana Murcia earned her first career win at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. Ciganda has won her last two tournaments.
The Reign from Spain---
Reigning NCAA Individual Champion Munoz will look to defend her NCAA title this week. Munoz won the 2008 NCAA Championships by knocking in a 25-foot putt in a playoff against UCLA's Tiffany Joh. This season, Munoz has been one of the team's most consistent players and is currently ranked fifth by both Golfweek and Golf Stat.
Leaders of the Pac-10 --
Setting the tone right for the post-season, the ASU women's golf team swept past the competition to win their eighth Pac-10 title by nine strokes. The Sun Devils were led by freshman Carlota Ciganda, who won her first collegiate title, and senior Jennifer Osborn. Ciganda made par on the hole 18 to defeat teammate Osborn and USC's Jennifer Song in a playoff and become ASU's ninth Pac-10 Medalist. In addition to Ciganda and Osborn, Azahara Munoz placed fifth while Juliana Murcia took 19th.
Pac-10 Honored --
The five players in the Sun Devils' Pac-10 lineup received Pac-10 All-Conference honors. Ciganda, Munoz and Murcia were each awarded First-Team honors while Osborn and Sweeney received Honorable Mention. This was Munoz's fourth time on the Pac-10 First-Team.
Murcia Me! --
Juliana Murcia is arguably the most improved player at the NCAA Championships this season. With five top 20 performances this season, the junior is currently ranked 11th by Golfweek. She finished her sophomore season ranked 58th with three top 20 finishes.
Nationally Honored --
Ciganda became the third Sun Devil golfer to be named Golfweek's Women's Player of the Week this season with her win at the Pac-10 Championship. Ciganda was also named Player of the Week by Golf World. Previously, the Sun Devils' stellar spring start was recognized by two national golf publications. Murcia was named Player of the Week by both Golfweek.com and Golf World. The team was also honored as Team of the Week by Golfweek.com. The team had previously been tabbed Team of the Week for their win at the NCAA Fall Preview in September and Anna Nordqvist was named Player of the Week for her win at The Derby.
All About Osborn --
After a tough junior season, Jennifer Osborn has come on strong in her final year at ASU. The California girl made it to a playoff hole at the Pac-10 Championship and finished tied for second behind teammate Carlota Ciganda. The senior has finished in the top 20 seven times this season including four top-10 performances. At the Wildcat, Osborn shot two rounds under par to jump up to seventh on the final day. Osborn recorded her third top-10 performance at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational. Playing as an individual, Osborn reclaimed her spot in the lineup with a ninth place finish.
Playing With the Pros --
Munoz competed as an amateur at the Kraft Nabisco Invitational held at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The 2008 NCAA Champion made the cut after the first two rounds and finished tied for 40th. Jennifer Johnson, a 2009 NLI signee, was also given an exemption to the Kraft Nabisco Invitational.Also earning an amateur exemption, ASU freshman Carlota Ciganda competed at the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International. The Spaniard carded a 3-under 69 at the Amateur Qualifier to claim her spot at the prestigious event. She carded a 12-over 156 (77-79) before missing the cut.
Sweet Sweeney --
Jaclyn Sweeney, a 2008 All-American, transfered to the team this spring and has been in the lineup in every tournament. She has recorded two top 10 finishes this spring and also received Pac-10 Honorable Mention accolades.
Looking to the Future --
Although they will lose two of their top players in Munoz and Osborn, he Sun Devils will return five players from this year's squad next year and will be joined by three freshmen. Jennifer Johnson, Alessia Knight and Larissa Eruera signed their letters of intent to study and compete at Arizona State in the fall. Johnson, of La Quinta, Calif., is one of the top-ranked American juniors and recently earned an exemption into the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Although hailing from Italy, Knight comes from Sun Devil roots as her father (who is from Chandler, Ariz.) played football for ASU. She was recently on Italy's World Amateur team. A native of New Zealand, Eruera won the 2006 New Zealand Amateur and was a semi-finalist in the event in 2007.