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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Walshe to play in LPGA Major

    UA senior Alison Walshe stares down a putt during the Wildcat Invitational Feb 26. at Omni Tucson National Golf Resort. Walshe tees off in the first LPGA Major Tournament of the season, the Kraft-Nabisco Championship, this afternoon.
    UA senior Alison Walshe stares down a putt during the Wildcat Invitational Feb 26. at Omni Tucson National Golf Resort. Walshe tees off in the first LPGA Major Tournament of the season, the Kraft-Nabisco Championship, this afternoon.

    Collegiate golf isn’t a team sport.

    It’s a debatable statement and something Alison Walshe, senior captain of the Arizona women’s golf team, would oppose.

    Upon being notified Jan. 18 that she was awarded one of the eight amateur slots in the Kraft-Nabisco Championships in Rancho Mirage, Calif. – the first of four LPGA Tour Majors this season with the first round starting today – all she could think about was her team.

    “”The first thing (Walshe) said to me was, ‘It conflicts with the ASU tournament and I don’t want to let the team down,'”” said Arizona head coach Shelly Haywood. “”I told her not to worry about that. There is no way I could deny her that because it is a huge opportunity and if she wants to pursue this game for a living, which I know she does, it is something I encourage.””

    Added Walshe: “”You are in college and you have teammates, and that is really important to you, so I was just looking out for that. …(The ASU) tournament is a big one, and I just wanted to make sure everything was taken care of.””

    So to Walshe, playing golf at Arizona is a team sport, regardless that each player’s strokes are scored individually. When she shoots well, it bodes well for the team and she takes great pride in that.

    But when she hits the links today on the Mission Hills Golf Club, a par-72 course, against some of the world’s best golfers – including UA alumna Annika Sorenstam – she won’t haveher team to fall back on.

    Instead, she will be teeing off at 1:36 p.m. with partner Katherine Hull, a Pepperdine graduate who has been in the LPGA since 2004.

    “”When I hit the course I am just going to treat it the same way. It is just another golf tournament that is more hyped up because it is the LPGA, but it’s important not to get overwhelmed by everything,”” said Walshe, who was recognized by Golfweek and Golf World magazines as the National Player of the Week for March 17 through March 23.

    “”It has been interesting being behind the ropes with all of the great players and I met all of the big names, and everyone has been great and friendly to all the amateurs in the field.””

    Above all, the opportunity has been important to Walshe because a career in the LPGA is something the senior from Westford, Mass., has envisioned for herself for a long time.

    She couldn’t imagine anything better than making a living out of playing at the world’s most beautiful courses while playing the game she loves.

    Being invited to an LPGA Tour Major is a life-sized bite of what the future may hold for Walshe.

    “”That’s the goal, playing in the LPGA Tour,”” Walshe said. “”Being out here definitely makes me want it so much more. Just seeing how spoiled they get. It is just the life of a tour player.””

    If Walshe’s collegiate career is any indication to how Walshe will fare, then she is in good shape.

    Of the 24 rounds she has completed this season, 12 have been scored par or better which led to top-10 finishes in seven of her eight events. The senior has won two individual crowns this season for Arizona.

    Whether or not collegiate golf is a team sport, the Wildcats sure do appreciate everything she has given to the program.

    “”Whenever she is out on the golf course you never have to worry about her, she is going to get a good score. It is like she’s on auto-pilot,”” Haywood said. “”She has been extremely valuable to the team. Everybody looks up to her and she is the emotional leader as well as the physical leader.””

    – Nick Sturiale contributed reporting

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