Notes: Arizona climbs rankings behind early success
Laura Ianello has a saying that her young Arizona team seems to have taken to heart.
You’re only as good as your last tournament.
With two victories in two starts this season, the Wildcats are looking sharp. They’re also No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, but it’s not something on which Ianello likes to dwell. She’s not even sure her players are aware of their standing as a team. As she reasons, it’s the position Arizona is in at the end of the spring that matters.
Arizona opened its season by winning the Mason Rudolph Championship on Sept. 23 then followed on Oct. 2 with a victory at the Windy City Collegiate. The magic word for this squad is “humble.”
“I wanted the girls to stay humble and stay hungry after Nashville,” Ianello said of the season-opening victory. “...I kind of put it in their minds that if we don’t win Chicago, we should be disappointed.”
Ianello knows it’s dangerous to rest on your laurels. After the Wildcats won two events to open last spring, they dropped off for the remainder of the year, and Ianello wonders if she pushed that team hard enough. This year, when Arizona held off a hard-charging Virginia at the Mason Rudolph despite a final-round 17-over 305, Ianello let her players know they wouldn’t be able to get away with that again. They played through to the end at the Windy City, finishing with a final-round 9-over 207. Arizona played the final nine holes in 1 under.
“The last four or five holes won us the tournament,” Ianello said.
A handful of new players have adjusted well for Arizona. Freshmen Janie Jackson and Anna Kim have immediately taken their place in the starting lineup, and so has Ohio State transfer Kendall Prince, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Ianello also has a new assistant coach in Derek Radley. He contributes a positive vibe to the team and a wealth of golf knowledge.
That Arizona remains flawless through the the start of the season after failing to send a team to the NCAA Championship last spring speaks to the depth of the Pac-12. Arizona had to battle top-ranked Washington for the Windy City title, and will meet a West Coast field at the Stanford Intercollegiate on Oct. 19-21.
“I could see easily eight of the teams in the Pac-12 being ranked in the top 15,” Ianello predicted.
At Washington, head coach Mary Lou Mulflur is singing much the same tune about a young team that’s adapting quickly. Washington also missed the the national championship last year, but won its season opener at Oregon State for the second year in a row, and put up an admirable fight against Arizona at the Windy City.
“We’ve got a pretty young nucleus, but they’re hungry,” she said.
The Huskies have a ritual at the end of each practice round where they circle around the same hole on the putting green and each player has to make a putt before the team can call it a day. When they did the drill before the Windy City, Mulflur took the time to make an announcement to the team that she had never before made. That’s when she announced the team’s No. 1 ranking.
“They just smiled,” she said.
Next up for Washington is the annual Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, a tournament the Huskies host at the difficult Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. They have never won their own tournament. A title there would be a fitting addition to this season.
There’s also a mantra in the Washington camp.
We can lose and learn or we can win and learn, but no matter what, we’re going to learn.
As for that No. 1 ranking, said Mulflur: “They’re not afraid of it at all.”
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THE FALL PREVIEW IS HERE: The Fall Preview is the event of the fall season as a strong field turns out to take a look at this spring’s national championship venue. UCLA handily won last year’s preview, and will be back to full strength after the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. So will Alabama, a team that opened with a surprising eighth-place finish at the Cougar Classic last month. Lindy Duncan and Duke will return after just one start this season (runner-up at the Cougar Classic) and so will USC (third at the same event).
The field: Alabama, Auburn, California, Denver, Duke, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Purdue, South Carolina, USC, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tulane, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia
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Five questions with TCU sophomore April McCoy, who won the Windy City Collegiate on Oct. 2 for her first career individual victory.
1. You had four birdies in a seven-hole stretch to make up a final-round deficit at the Windy City. What was going through your head during that stretch?
Honestly, my coach says to give my 110 (percent) focus. It means for me to focus one minute for my golf shot. Once I hit the golf shot I start singing a song. I really don’t have a lot of time to think about how I’m playing, where I’m at. After I hit my golf shot, I start singing.
2. Would you rather play with the lead or come from behind?
I like to play in the lead. I think I like the fact that people have to come catch me. Either they have to wait for me to mess up or they have to play really good. I like to be in the lead and lead the group.
3. Where does a collegiate victory rank among your golf accomplishments?
No. 1 by far, definitely. Even in my junior (golf) years, I never won anything on the AJGA, I was always TJGT so this is by far the biggest win of my career. I’ll remember about the first win, hard work does pay off.
4. What’s the best song on your ipod for getting fired up before a round? What do you sing during the round?
I sang Adele, “Rumor Has It.” I love that song. And then I sang a lot of Michael Jackson songs, a lot of those songs. I think Michael Jackson was maybe the top one.
Favorite Michael Jackson song?
“Man in the Mirror.”
5. You’re a native Texan. What’s your favorite part of Texas culture?
I think I feel like it’s really family oriented in Texas. Wherever you go, I feel very comfortable and welcome.