Arizona wins first title since 2003
BOULDER CITY, Nev. – The streak is over. After 66 consecutive events without a victory, Arizona won the windy Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown on Tuesday at the Boulder Creek Golf Club.
Arizona posted a 12-over 300 in the final round to stay ahead of Florida, which had the best final round score with a 297. The Gators briefly grabed the lead on the back nine, but settled for second place. Louisville placed third followed by UC Davis and Arkansas.
“We’re back,” said third-year head coach Shelly Haywood, shortly after her team had seen the final results.
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That last time the Wildcats won was at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational on Oct. 8, 2003, when Erica Blasberg, Whitney Welch, Mar Garcia, Lani Elston and Cassandra Kirkland brought home the trophy from Seattle.
That leaves a few recruiting classes that carried a Wildcats golf bag that never experienced a team win. The most notable player in those classes: All-American Alison Walshe.
This time it was an entirely new cast. Led by medalist Sherlyn Popelka, a freshman, Margarita Ramos, Alejandra Llaneza, Isabelle Boineau and Nikki Koller - a new group of Wildcats wil bring home the hardware from Las Vegas.
One year ago, Pepperdine recorded the lowest 54-hole score in NCAA women’s golf history with a 41-under 823 total. This year, conditions were polar opposite with Arizona’s winning total coming at 14-over 878.
“The conditions today were incredibly rough, but the girls hung in there,” Haywood said. “It was 48 degrees when they teed off and the wind was blowing around 40 miles per hour. They finally know how good they are and we’re still a very young team.”
Playing in just her third college tournament, Popelka posted rounds of 69-69-71 on the par-72, 6,233-yard layout to finish at 7-under 209 to finish two shots clear of Louisville’s Sara-Maude Juneau. Juneau turned in the tournament’s best score with a 67 in the second round to share the 36-hole lead with Popelka.
Pepperdine’s Lisa McCloskey set the NCAA 54-hole tournament record last year with a 17-under 199 performance.