Cats Chasing National Title

May 17, 2010

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Teeing Off: The 2009-10 season reaches its apex as #7-ranked Arizona looks to capture its third national championship at the NCAA Women's Golf Championships, May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, North Carolina.

About the Course: The Country Club of Landfall's Pete Dye Course opened for play to the club's members in November of 1987 and was constructed using Bermuda fairways and roughs paired with Bentgrass greens. The course also features freshwater lakes and stretches from 4,859 yards from the front tees to 7.026 yards in the back. The par-72 course will be laid out over 6,368 yards.

The Field: Arizona is one of 24 teams competing in the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships. Joining the Wildcats in the field are South Carolina, USC, Tennessee, Arizona State, UCLA, Auburn, Purdue, Texas, Duke, New Mexico, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Tulane, Florida State, Stanford, Pepperdine, Oregon, San Jose State, TCU, Kent State and Texas A&M. Arizona will be paired with USC and South Carolina each of the first two days. The teams will start from the 1st tee at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18 before moving to the 10th tee the following day at 8:00 a.m., all times Eastern. Pairings and times for the final two rounds will be set based on standings at the end of rounds two and three. The Cats will tee off with USC and South Carolina on the first two days, starting on the first tee Tuesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. before hitting the 10th tee on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. (ET). The final two rounds will be paired based on the team standings.

Tournament History: Fresh off back-to-back wins, Arizona will be looking to add a 4th win in the 2009-10 season with its third national championship. The Wildcats were victorious in 1996 at the Dunes Course in La Quinta, Calif., then added a second crown in 2000 in Sun River, Ore. On each occasion, the Wildcats captured the regional title before claiming the ultimate prize. This is the second national championship event to be held at the Pete Dye Course, the first being staged in 1995 with Arizona finishing in 12th place.

Cats in the Polls: Arizona remained at #7 in the latest Golf World/NGCA Coaches Poll, released on May 5. Despite their win at the regional event, the Cats dropped one spot to #4 in the GolfWeek/Sagarin Performance Index. Margarita Ramos is the top rated individual in the performance index at #20 with a 71.67rating. Sherlyn Popelka is at #39 with a 72.33 rating while Isabelle Boineau is not far behind at #43 with a rating of 72.43.

Last Time Out: The Wildcats led wire-to-wire at the NCAA West Regional played on the Stanford Golf Course and captured their 5th regional crown in program history. Arizona posted a 9-shot victory over UCLA, besting the Bruins for the second-straight event, thanks to a team score of 24-over par 876. Sophomore Nikki Koller led the way for the Wildcats, sharing 3rd place with a 54-hole total of 2-over par 215. Alejandra Llaneza claimed a share of 7th place at 6-over par 219 while Margarita Ramos finished tied for 10th place, one shot behind Llaneza.

Postseason Particulars: The storied tradition of Arizona women's golf is looking to add another chapter to its lengthy history with a third team title. The 1996 championship team was led by future LPGA veteran Marisa Baena, who claimed the individual title that season by a comfortable 7-stroke margin, but helped the Wildcats win a playoff with San Jose State by holing a 147-yard 8-iron for eagle on the par-4 18th hole that gave Arizona a team score of 15 on the hole for a 1-shot edge. Four years later, the 2000 team completed one of the most dominating campaign by posting a 21-stroke victory, the 3rd-largest in NCAA history. Jenna Daniels won medalist honors that season by finishing 1-under par while Julia Kraschinski finished runner-up and Cristina Baena also finished in the top 10.

Going Low: The five players competing in the NCAA 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 38 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.

Steady Swinging: A look at the season statistics shows that Arizona has provided a consistent scoring touch throughout the 2009-10 season. In four events during the Fall calendar, Arizona posted a scoring average of 292.55. Moving to the Spring events, Arizona has posted a team scoring average of 292.65 to compile a season total of 292.61. The Wildcats have had just four team rounds with a score of 300 or more and have seven rounds of par or better on the season.

Finishing Strong: Since posting its highest team total of the season at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in late March, Arizona has played its best golf of the 2009-10 campaign down the stretch. With two victories and a 7th place finish that was just 12 shots off the lead at the PING/ASU Invitational, the Wildcats have posted a team scoring average of 291.33 over the last month.

Perfect TIming: Sophomore Nikki Koller picked a perfect time to turn in her best 54-hole total in her Arizona career at the NCAA West Regional. In her first top 10 finish as a Wildcat, Koller did not record a single-hole total worse than bogey and carded no fewer than three birdies in each round. Her consistency has been a considerable part of the recent team success for the Wildcats as she has averaged a 73.00 total over the last three events.

By The Numbers: Arizona has a number of players ranking among the top in the country in a number of statistical categories. Alejandra Llaneza and Isabelle Boineau are tied for 14th in par 3 scoring at 3.05, Margarita Ramos is 21st in par 4 scoring at 4.09 and Sherlyn Popelka is 22nd in par 5 scoring at 4.88. Ramos is also 17th in greens in regulation at .709 while Popelka is 10th in putts on greens in regulation at 1.844. As a team, the Wildcats are 2nd in par 3 scoring at 3.14, 7th in par 4 scoring at 4.20 and 3rd in par 5 scoring 4.96. The Cats are also 8th in subpar strokes per round at 2.47, 9th in fairways hit at .789, 7th in greens in regulation at .656, 3rd in putts on greens in regulation at 1.883 and 4th in total short game at .514.

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