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Thursday November 2, 2000

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UA faces tough challenge in S.C.

By Caitlin Dahill

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ochoa, Gulbis led the No. 1 ranked Wildcats

Arizona's top-ranked women's golf team will travel to South Carolina to defend their Golf World Invitational title tomorrow against its toughest rival, Duke.

Also competing in this weekend's invitational at the Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Hall Plantation on Hilton Head Island, S.C., will be Southern California, Tennessee, Stanford, Auburn, Texas, Louisiana State, Pepperdine, Georgia, Purdue and Arizona State.

For UA, the tournament will be a chance to claim the Golf World Invitational title for the third year in a row.

The Wildcats barely held on to first place last year when Duke - making a final-round push - finished a mere shot behind.

UA head coach Greg Allen expects the Blue Devils to be the toughest competitor of the 12 teams, all of which are ranked in the top-15 nationally.

"(Duke is) the only team that has beaten us this season," Allen said.

Duke, ranked second nationally, has been staying close with Arizona in the national polls, lagging behind by 24 votes.

The team, however, said they will feel no pressure this weekend.

"Pressure is what you make it," Allen said. "Everyone is trying to beat us because we are playing to the top."

Arizona has held on to its No. l spot since its season debut in September and is led by two freshmen - Natalie Gulbis and Lorena Ochoa.

Ochoa is ranked No. 1 nationally after playing in her first three collegiate tournaments.

Her opening-round score of 66 at the Stanford Invitational two weeks ago is the second-lowest finish ever by an Arizona freshman.

Returning junior Cristina Baena, ranked third nationally, tied for 11th place at the tournament last year.

"I didn't play well last year," Baena said.

Baena said that she is looking forward to competing on the par-72, 6,257-yard course.

"It has great greens - fast greens," she said.

Seniors Christina Monteiro and Christelle Cuzon will also be competing in the invitational.