Arizona wins first Pac-10 title since ’02
Maybe the Wildcats were channeling Lorena Ochoa.
A day after the LPGA confirmed that Ochoa, a former Arizona All-American, would announce her retirement on Friday, the Wildcats won their first Pac-10 Championship since an Ochoa-led Wildcats squad won the conference crown in 2002.
Arizona, No. 7 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, began the final round Wednesday at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club three shots behind No. 2 UCLA and fell behind by as many as nine strokes after the first five holes.
But the Wildcats rallied. Arizona posted a final-round-best 288 to finish at 14-over 878, three shots ahead of UCLA (294). No. 37 Oregon (290) was third at 889, and No. 5 USC (289) was fourth at 891.
Sophomore Margarita Ramos closed with 72 to tie for third at 3-over 219, while sophomore Isabelle Boineau played her final 13 holes in 1 under to shoot 73 and tie for 10th. Sophomore Nikki Koller (72) and freshman Sherlyn Popelka (77) tied for 14th.
Arizona State, No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and the defending NCAA champion, was disqualified before Round 2 because it could not field a full lineup. Freshman Jennifer Johnson and sophomore Giulia Molinaro withdrew because they were ill.
The remaining three Sun Devils played very well.
Sophomore Carlota Ciganda won her second Pac-10 title in a row – the first time a player has won consecutive conference titles in Pac-10 history – making birdie on the first playoff hole to defeat teammate Juliana Murcia. Ciganda (71) and Murcia (69) finished at 2-under 214. Junior Jaclyn Sweeney (72) tied for third at 219.
Arizona coach Shelly Haywood was not with the Wildcats for a second straight event for what the university said was “private family matters.”
The Pac-10 title was the seventh in Arizona program history.
Regional seedings will be announced April 26 and will be played May 6-8 at three sites. The NCAA Women’s Championship is May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C.