W Golf Tees Off in Windy City

Oct. 6, 2008

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Teeing Off: Arizona heads north to Illinois to take part in the Windy City Collegiate Championships hosted by Northwestern University. The tournament will be held October 6-7 at the Evanston Golf Club and be played out over a par-72, 6,350-yard course. The teams will play 36 holes on Monday before finishing up the final 18 holes on Tuesday.

Weather Worries: The Wildcats will more than likely have to dust off their weather gear as weather forecasts predict a 40 percent chance of rain on Monday. Temperatures are expected to be near 65 degrees on Monday before climbing to 69 degrees for Tuesday’s final round.

Participating Teams: Arizona, East Carolina, Illinois, Iowa State, Michigan, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Purdue, Texas, TCU, Texas State, UNC-Wilimington, UNLV.

Last Time Out at the Mason Rudolph Championships: Junior Brittany Benvenuto fired a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 23rd place as #17-ranked Arizona finished in 11th place at the 2008 Mason Rudolph Championships in Franklin, Tenn. The Wildcats shot 896 over the three days to finish at +32, but turned in their best effort over the final day as they posted a score of 293. Benvenuto completed the 54-hole event at 221 (+5), her lowest tournament total with the Wildcats that also included her low round as a collegian. Sophomore Alejandra Llaneza also turned in her lowest round of the tournament at 1-over 73 and finished at +8 (224). Senior Amanda Wilson was one shot behind Llaneza, finishing the tournament with back-to-back rounds of 77 after shooting a team-best 71 on Friday. Sophomore Margarita Ramos finished the tournament at 228 (+12) while freshman Nikki Koller finished at +16 (232) in her Arizona debut.

Let’s Hear From Haywood: “It was definitely an up-and-down event. We weren’t as consistent as we want and we need to get better in our second round. That has been a thorn in our side for a while now and we are addressing our lack of focus and intensity. We need to come out ready to win as soon as we step off the airplane. We have talked about our history, expectations and the winning attitude with the team and I really feel like this is going to be a big week for our program. We are looking for a win and the team won’t settle for anything less than that. We have worked very hard in the gym and on the course and we expect to do very well.”

Cats in the Polls: The Wildcats dropped to 24th in the most recent edition of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, released Thursday, October 2. Brittany Benvenuto is the team’s highest-rated golfer with a ranking of #76. No other Wildcats are currently ranked among the top 100 after the first tournament.

International Experience: Sophomore Alejandra Llaneza will not compete this week with the Wildcats because she will represent her home country of Mexico in the World Amateur Team Championships in Australia. Llaneza was the low scorer for her country this past summer, earning one of just three places for women on the team.

Out of It: Arizona’s 11th place finish was the first time the Wildcats had finished outside the top 10 of a regular season event since the Northrup Grumman Invitational in Palos Verdes, Calif., an event that was played Feb. 13-15, 2006.

Homecoming Queen: Freshman Nikki Koller had the privilege of playing in front of friends and family in her first collegiate event last week. The Vanderbilt Legends Club, located in Franklin, Tenn., sits just 86 miles from her hometown of Lewisburg, Ky. Koller showed some freshman jitters in her opening round with a score of 80, but she trimmed five shots off that total in her second round before leveling off at 77 in her final 18 holes.

Only the Best: While the Wildcats may have been slightly disappointed with their overall finish, they can take heart in the fact that 9 of the top 10 ranked teams in the preseason Golf Week/Sagarin Performance Index were present at the Mason Rudolph Championships. Defending national champion USC, tournament winner UCLA and #3-ranked Arizona State highlighted the star-studded field. The Wildcats did finish ahead of #23-ranked Wake Forest as well as 29th-ranked Arkansas and #36 Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Foreign Flavor: The Arizona women’s golf team has boasted a number of foreign stars in recent years and the 2008 squad is no exception. Three Wildcats have travelled from around the globe to join the team, starting with sophomore Alejandra Llaneza and freshman Margarita Ramos from Mexico. Both players call Mexico City home while Ramos attended Xavier Prep in the Phoenix area. Fellow freshman Isabelle Boineau joined the Wildcats this Fall from Marseille, France.

Great Expectations: When Isabelle Boineau makes her intercollegiate debut at the Windy City Championships, she will bring with her a high level of expectations from the coaching staff. The top-ranked amateur in her home country of France, Boineau led her country to a runner-up finish at the 2008 Duke of York and was the individual runner-up at the Spirit International.

Fab Freshmen: Mesa native Ashley Malaska rounds out a foursome of talented freshmen who have head coach Shelly Haywood and her staff setting such high expectations for the 2008-09 season. While she waits to make her first collegiate start, Malaska brings a solid junior resume that includes being named a 1st-team all-region selection at Red Mountain High in each of her final three prep seasons.

In The Family: Malaska not only brings a wealth of talent and athletic ability to the Arizona squad, but she also brings a pedigree unmatched by most of her competitors. Her father, Mike, is the Worldwide Director of Instruction for the Nicklaus Golf Academies. He also provided instruction for current teammate Margarita Ramos.

Looking Ahead: Following a one-week layoff, the Wildcats will hit the road during the middle of the month to take part in the Stanford/Pepsi Intercollegiate. The event will be a familiar one for Alejandra Llanez and Brittany Benvenuto after each were part of the five-person Wildcats squad last season. The Wildcats took 7th place overall as a team while Llaneza shared 16th place after carding rounds of 72, 75 and 73 to finish at +7 (220). Benvenuto will be looking to continue her strong play from the Mason Rudolph Championships and not repeat her effort of last season that concluded with a tally of 249 (+36).

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