Women's Golf Travels to NCAA Championships as Defending Champs

May 18, 2001

NCAA Championship Notes

Teeing Off: The second-ranked Arizona women's golf team concludes postseason play at the 2001 NCAA Women's Golf Championships, held May 22-25 at the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. The Wildcats, the defending National Champion, enter this year's championship looking to become just the third school to win back-to-back titles. Arizona has finished no lower than fourth at the NCAA Championships since 1996. Play begins Tuesday and runs through Friday.

The Course: The 24-team, six-individual field will play a total of 72 holes, 18 each day. The El Campeon Course at the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort is a par 73, 6,119-yard layout.

Last Time at the Facility: Arizona posted a second-place finish at the NCAA Fall Preview at the El Campeon Course, Sept. 15-16. UA shot a 598 total in the weather-shortened event and finished three strokes behind Duke. Individually, Cristina Baena was the top Wildcat finisher, carding a 147 (+1) to finish third.

The Field: Of the 24 teams competing, 19 are ranked in the top 25 of the latest edition of the Collegiate Golf Foundation's MasterCard rankings, including nine of the nation's top 10. The field includes Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, California, Duke, Georgia, Kent State, Louisiana State, Louisville, Michigan State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, San Jose State, South Florida, Stanford, Texas, TCU, Tulsa, UCLA, USC, Washington.

Wildcat Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Lorena Ochoa Fr. 71.35 9/0 66 10
Natalie Gulbis Fr. 72.00 6/1 67 9
Cristina Baena Jr. 75.27 3/1 70 10
Laura Myerscough So. 76.08 2/0 71 10
Anne Lee So. 76.57 0/1 72 8

Last Year at the NCAA Championships: The Wildcats captured the 2000 NCAA Championship by posting a four-round team total of 1175. Second-place Stanford trailed Arizona by 21 strokes at the completion of the tournament, the third-largest margin of victory in the 19-year history of the event. Individually, senior Jenna Daniels captured individual medalist honors by shooting a one-under 287. Freshman Julia Kraschinski finished in second place with a two-over 290. Also in the top 10 for UA was sophomore Cristina Baena, who tied for tenth place at nine-over par (297). Rounding out the Wildcat lineup was junior Christina Monteiro, who tied for 65th place (308), and senior Jill Gomric, who tied for 81st place (311).

Last Time Out at the NCAA West Regional: Arizona's Natalie Gulbis capped off her first-ever NCAA West Regional women's golf tournament with a 1-under 71 on Saturday to help her Wildcats to the team title and claim medalist honors in the process. The freshman shot a total of 9-under 207 at the par-72, 6,089-yard TrystingTree Golf Club over the 54-hole tournament, while Arizona put up a teamtotal of 4-over-par 868 to win by 20 strokes. Claiming the second spot in the individual race was Gulbis' teammate and fellow freshman Lorena Ochoa, who burned the course for a 69 on Saturday to shoot 210. Arizona, which teed off at 8:30 a.m., was able to finish before the wind kicked up to a steady 30 m.p.h. for the afternoon tee times. Ochoa came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the country, and Gulbis held down the No. 3 ranking. Arizona was No. 2.

Arizona All-Time in NCAA Championship Play: This is Arizona's 15th appearance at the NCAA Women's Golf Championships (1982-83, 1987-93, 1995-2001). Arizona is seeking its second consecutive, and third overall, NCAA title. If the Wildcats were to win, it would mark just the fourth time in history that a program has won back-to-back national championships. Florida first accomplished the feat in 1985-86, while Arizona State did it twice (1993-95 and 1997-98). In addition to the 2000 team title, the Cats first won the NCAA Championship in 1996.

Individual Success: Four Wildcats have captured the NCAA individual crown, which is tied for the most in tournament history (Arizona State). Susan Slaughter (1990), Annika Sorenstam (1991), Marisa Baena (1996) and Jenna Daniels (2000) each earned medalist honors at the NCAA Championships.

Ochoa on the LPGA: Freshman Lorena Ochoa did not participate in the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational with the Wildcats because she was in Rancho Mirage, Calif., participating in the Nabisco Championship with the LPGA. The Nabisco is one of the tour's four major tournaments. Ochoa led all amateurs and tied for 21st place overall. Ochoa fired rounds of 72, 71, 74 and 73, nine strokes off the lead. Last month, Ochoa finished tied for seventh place at the Welch's/Circle K Championship, the LPGA event held in Tucson. She shot a total of 276 (-12).

Tiger, Jenna and. . . Lorena: In being named Rolex College Golfer of the Month for February, freshman Lorena Ochoa became just the third golfer in the history of the award to win the honor three times in one season. She was also honored for the months of September and November. Ochoa joins elite company, Tiger Woods won the award three times in 1995-96 and Jenna Daniels won it three times last year.

More Accolades: The UA freshman duo of Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis have been named finalists for the 2000-01 Honda Sports Award for women's golf, which signifies the top female collegiate athlete in that sport. The two other finalists are Candy Hannemann (Duke) and Candie Kung (USC). Incidentally, Arizona's Jenna Daniels, the 2000 NCAA individual champion, won this award last season.

Cats In the Polls: Arizona currently stands at No. 2 in the College Golf Foundation's MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings. Despite finishing 13 strokes ahead of top-ranked Duke in their last meeting, the Cats still trail the Blue Devils in the poll. Freshman Lorena Ochoa occupies the nation's top spot in the individual rankings after capturing four individual titles so far this season, including the Pac-10 Championship. Other UA golfers ranked in the poll include freshman Natalie Gulbis. Gulbis is ranked fourth in the latest edition of the poll. Gulbis won the third championship of her career at the NCAA West Regional and has six top-10 finishes in eight scoring events this season. The Wildcats also occupy the No. 2 spot in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. UA freshmen Ochoa and Gulbis hold the Nos.1 and 2 spots in the Sagarin index, respectively.

Playing Time: Junior Cristina Baena is one of three UA players to compete in all 10 events this year. The Pereira, Colombia, native ranks third on the squad with a 75.27 stroke average and has three top-10 finishes. Cristina, the sister of 1996 NCAA Champion Marisa Baena, was an all-Pac-10 honorable mention selection this season.

Picking It Up In the Postseason: While the 1-2 punch of Natalie Gulbis and Lorena Ochoa has been nothing short of outstanding all season long, combining to win seven of the team's 10 stroke play championships this season, the pair may be even better in the postseason. In Arizona's last two events (Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA West Regional), the pair finished 1-2 in both tournaments and were a combined 21 strokes under par. Entering the NCAA Championships, Ochoa is the top-ranked player in the country and Gulbis is ranked fourth in the most-recent edition of the CGF/MasterCard college golf rankings.

Team Titles: As a team, Arizona has won six team titles this season, including its last two. All told, Arizona has finished no lower than second in eight of 10 stroke play events this season. The team's average margin of victory in those six wins is 8.83.

Conference Kudos: All five Wildcat golfers earned all-conference accolades in 2000-01. In addition to Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis earning first team kudos, Cristina Baena, Anne Lee and Laura Myerscough each earned honorable mention all-Pac-10 honors.

Falling: Arizona's 290.17 stroke average in postseason play is 5.91 strokes lower than its stroke average in the previous four spring events (296.08). In 10 stroke play events this season, Arizona has a 294.55 stroke average.

Kraschinski Out: Sophomore Julia Kraschinski is out of action in order to receive treatment for a painful degenerated disc that has hampered her since the end of last summer. Kraschinski missed the Wildcats' entire fall schedule because of the injury and competed in only two tournaments during the spring season. She will undergo a cutting edge procedure known as intradiscal electrothermy (IDET) treatment in order to improve stability in her back and decrease pain. As a freshman, Kraschinski competed in all 11 of the Wildcats' tournaments and finished with a stroke average of 74.88. She capped off her initial campaign with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, trailing teammate Jenna Daniels by only three strokes. Arizona will seek a medical hardship year for Kraschinski following the completion of the season.

Freshmen Hitting the (Record) Books: The Wildcats' two freshmen 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.

Golfer Date Tournament Score
Marisa Baena May 1996 NCAA West Regionals 65 (-7)
Lorena Ochoa 10/20/2000 Stanford Invitational 66 (-6)
Natalie Gulbis 10/20/2000 Stanford Invitational 67 (-5)
Annika Sorenstam October 1990 Stanford Invitational 67 (-5)

Princess Christina: Senior Christina Monteiro did not travel with the team the weekend of Nov. 10-12 to Estero, Fla. for the Match Play Championships in order to remain in Tucson for UA's annual homecoming festivities. Monteiro was selected as the athletic department's nominee for homecoming queen.

Hello, Old Friend: UA squared off against Georgia in the first round of November's Match Play Championships. The Georgia Bulldogs are coached by former Wildcat head coach Todd McCorkle. The Cats and McCorkle's Bulldogs have completed in three of the same tournaments since he left Tucson in late June.

Fall Season Wrap-Up: The Wildcats completed a successful fall season by capturing two team titles and two individual titles. Four Arizona golfers garnered a total of nine top-10 finishes in just four scoring events. The Wildcats opened the fall with a second-place showing at the NCAA Fall Preview, shooting 598 and finishing just three strokes behind champion Duke. The following weekend saw the Wildcats earn their first title with an 892 at the Comcast/Dick McGuire Invitational. Freshman Lorena Ochoa won the individual title with a three-round score of 212 (-7). In October, Arizona won its second team championship of the year by shooting 873 at the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational. Arizona's two freshmen, Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis, opened the tournament with rounds of 66 and 67. The Wildcats wrapped up the fall season with a sixth-place finish at the Golf World Invitational and a seventh-place finish at the CGF Match Play Championships. Ochoa again earned medalist honors at the Golf World Invitational. Junior Cristina Baena notched three top-10 finishes, including second place at the Comcast/Dick McGuire Invitational and third place at the NCAA Fall Preview. Arizona finished the fall season ranked No. 2 by the College Golf Foundation and had three golfers ranked individually in the top 15.

2000 National Champions: The Wildcats capped 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 Sun River, 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: In just his first year with the Arizona golf program, Greg Allen has led the team to five tournament championships, including the Pac-10 Conference Championship. His team has been ranked no lower than No. 2 in the country all year long. Last month, the Golf Coaches Association of America selected Allen to coach the United States team in the 2001 U.S.-Japan Collegiate Matches. 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.

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