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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Experience leads way for women’s golf

    Alison Walshe
    Alison Walshe

    The No. 9 Arizona women’s golf team tees off this weekend in the Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville, Tenn. Many familiar faces await the Wildcats, including host Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen, who coached Arizona the past seven years.

    The tournament features many teams that participated in last year’s event. The top nine teams nationally will also attend, including four Pacific 10 Conference teams, along with 14 of the top 27 overall.

    Facing those conference foes will not be easy, as UA head coach Shelly Haywood called the Pac-10 the nation’s toughest conference. The preseason rankings support that call, with No. 2 ASU, No. 3 USC, No. 4 UCLA and No. 20 Stanford in the field.

    Arizona’s best player from last year, senior Alison Walshe, is again expected to lead the charge. Walshe, the event’s defending champion, looks to improve on her team-leading 73.35 stroke per round average from a year ago.

    “”I just want to compete every tournament and give myself a chance to win,”” Walshe said.

    She won two other events last year, the Stanford Pepsi Invitational and the Brigham Young Dixie Classic. For her effort, Walshe was named an All-American by the National Golf Coaches Association.

    Senior Mary Jacobs also brings experience. Jacobs competed in the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand, over the summer and helped the U.S. team earn a bronze medal. Jacobs ranked second on the team last year averaging 74.23 strokes per round.

    Haywood expects the two seniors to set the pace, but the team’s three other starters are no slouches.

    Junior Adriana Zwanck competed in all 13 tournaments Arizona entered last year, as did Walshe and Jacobs. She finished third on the team in overall scoring average at 75.16 and is ranked No. 1 in the Spanish Amateur Rankings.

    Junior Amanda Wilson competed in 11 tournaments last year and was fourth on the team with a 77.03 stroke average.

    The lone newcomer to this year’s team has perhaps the most experience. Freshman Alejandra Llaneza from Mexico City has competed in six LPGA events in Mexico – her first at age 16 – and is a five-time state and national champion.

    Llaneza said she was very nervous before the LPGA tournaments, but that through them she was better able to understand how she reacts in pressure situations. She said the other competitors gave her tips as well.

    Haywood said last year’s team was inconsistent, but that Llaneza’s addition should remedy that.

    “”She came here ready to play and proved herself right away,”” Haywood said. “”I have no doubts about her abilities.””

    Walshe was also excited to play with Llaneza.

    “”She’s only going to get better,”” Walshe said. “”She’s a great player, she’s really driven and I think she’ll solidify the team.””

    Aside from becoming a Wildcat, Llaneza has something in common with former Wildcat great and current LPGA star Lorena Ochoa. They share the same swing coach, which can only bode well for Arizona after Ochoa finally won her first-career major championship this year.

    Haywood said she hopes the team wins three tournaments this year, as well as improve s on the squad’s fourth and 14th place finishes, respectively, at the Pac-10 Championships and NCAA Championships.

    “”We have high expectations, and it’s important that we get off to a good, as well as fast, start to the season,”” Haywood said. “”(All the players) got a lot better over the summer, and they’re all ready to go out there and prove how good they can be.””

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