Wildcats Start Postseason Play

April 16, 2010

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Teeing Off: Arizona begins the 2010 postseason on Monday, April 19 when the team takes part in the 2010 Pac-10 Championships at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. The University of Oregon is the tournament host for the 3-day, 54-hole event.

About the Course: The Eugene Country Club, which was the venue for the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur, is hosting the Pac-10 Championships for the third time. The par-72 course lays out over a 5,900-yard track.

The Field: Much like almost every other tournament the Wildcats take part in during the regular season, the Pac-10 Championships will contain a number of the nation's elite programs. Based on the latest GolfWeek/Sagarin Performance Index, the #6-ranked Wildcats will battle top-ranked Arizona State, #2 UCLA, #5 USC, #13 Stanford, #17 California, #35 Oregon, #36 Washington, #101 Oregon State and #113 Washington State.

Tournament History: Arizona has won the team championship six times of the previous 23 Pac-10 tournaments, including the a win the last time the event was held at the Eugene Country Club. The Wildcats ran away with the championship 10 years ago, posting a 18-stroke victory over Stanford by finishing at 883 for the tournament. Jenna Daniels finished as the runner-up after carding a 3-over par 219 to lead a Wildcats squad that took three of the top five individual places. In the 1991 event on the same course, Annika Sorenstam also took 2nd place with an identical 219 total as the Cats finished in 2nd place. Arizona last won the team title in 2002, the last of its six overall, and also has claimed five individual crowns with Lorena Ochoa winning the 2001 event.

Cats in the Polls: Arizona continues its climb up the rankings after moving up to #8 in the latest Golf World/NGCA Coaches Poll, released on April 5. The Wildcats moved up to 6th with a 72.16 rating in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, a purely statistical comparison of all NCAA teams. Sophomore Margarita Ramos is the highest rated player in the individual performance charts, checking in at 24th position with a 71.70 rating. Sophomore Isabelle Boineau is 35th overall with a 72.05 personal rating while Sherlyn Popelka also sits in the top 50, holding the 44th spot at 72.24.

Last Time Out: The Wildcats finished in 7th place with a team score of 4-over par at the PING/ASU Invitational, staged April 9-11 at the Karsten Golf Course in Tempe. The Wildcats trimmed their team total in each of the final two rounds to finish just 12 shots off the lead in a power-packed field that included 12 teams ranked in the top 30. Margarita Ramos led the way for the Wildcats at 2-under par to tie for 11th place while Isabelle Boineau and Nikki Koller each grabbed a share of 29th place with 3-over par totals. Alejandra Llaneza and Sherlyn Popelka were also inside the top 50, finishing at 6-over and 8-over for the 54-hole event, respectively. UCLA won the team championship at 8-under par while Stephanie Kono of the Bruins took home medalist honors at 9-under par.

Postseason Particulars: With their success during the regular season, the Wildcats are assured a place at one of the three NCAA Regional tournaments to be held May 6-8. The West regional, the most geographically ideal location for the Cats, will be hosted by Stanford. The Central regional will be hosted by Indiana while East Carolina will play host to the East regional. The top seven teams at each of those events will earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships to be played May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Going Low: The five players competing in the Pac-10 Championships for the Wildcats have each taken their turn posting low numbers during the regular season. With Nikki Koller carding a final-round 68 at the PING/ASU Invitational, the fivesome has carded 30 rounds on the season of par or better. Four of the five players have shot 68 in a round at least once while Sherlyn Popelka posted back-to-back rounds of 69 to help earn her individual title at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown in November.

Fast Starts: In its eight tournaments this season, the Wildcats have played some of their best golf in the opening round, shooting par or better five times. Arizona shot even on day one of two events after posting a season-opening total of 2-under 286 at the Mason Rudolph Championships before firing a 4-under par round of 284 at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown and 5-under par at the Bruin Wave Invitational. The Wildcats have averaged 289.0 in their first 18 holes of team play, an average of 1-over par.

Head Coach Shelly Haywood: Beginning her third season as the head coach and sixth season overall is Shelly Haywood, a former two-time Big West selection at New Mexico State. Haywood is a member of the LPGA, the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Committee and an honorary member of the Arizona Golf Association's Board of Governors. Haywood was named the LPGA National Coach of the Year in October 2005. She has coached five all-Americans and ten all-Pac-10 performers since coming to the U of A.

By The Numbers: Arizona has a number of players ranking among the top in the country in a number of statistical categories. Alejandra Llaneza leads three players in par 3 scoring at 3.01 for 7th place while Isabelle Boineau is tied for 14th at 3.04 and Nikki Koller is 17th at 3.04. Sherlyn Popelka is tied for 16th in par 5 scoring at 4.85 and 6th in putts on greens in regulation at 1.819. Llaneza is also 25th in putts on greens in regulation at 1.862 and 24th in total short game at .562 while Boineau is 23rd in greens in regulation at .705. As a team, Arizona is 3rd in both par 3 scoring at 3.12 and par 5 scoring at 4.96, 9th in subpar strokes per round at 2.41, 4th in putts on greens in regulation at 1.886 and 7th in total short game at .507.

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