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Women's golf takes 2nd at Wildcat Invitational

By Chris Luckow
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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The Arizona women's golf team finished second, one stroke behind UCLA, in yesterday's third round of the Wildcat Invitational at Arizona National.

Junior Whitney Welch finally broke out of a two-year slump at the Wildcat Invitational, finishing sixth overall with a total score of 215 (+2).

"You think you'd have an advantage at home," said Welch. "But this time every year I play really bad."

At the Wildcat Invitational in 2004, Welch finished 74th overall with a total score of 262 (+49) and in 2003 she finished tied for 95th with a total score of 261 (+48).

"I spent a lot of time preparing and I never let myself become overwhelmed," said Welch. "I'm going in the right direction now that I've lost all my baggage."

"She's battled the past two years and it's really nice to see her do well," said Lani Elston who finished fourth shooting a 71 in the final round with a total score of 212 (-1).

In last year's tournament, Elston finished tied for 34th with a total score of 230 (+17).

"We're all feeding off each other, and this is the best finish we've had in a long time," said Elston.

Junior Cassandra Kirkland finished 13th overall with a total score of 220 and senior Mar Garcia finished tied for 15th with a total score of 221.

"When you finish one stroke behind to come in second you know its going to sting," said UA head coach Greg Allen. "But other than that I feel great."

A second place finish isn't bad considering last year the Wildcats finished ninth.

Arizona heads to the UNLV Invitational March 14 in Henderson, Nev., the home of Welch and a course she has played many times.

"It's going to be a birdie-fest," said Welch. "The way I'm hitting my irons I'm going to tear it up."

Men's golf tees off in Hawaii

The UA men's golf team tees off today at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate, where it has won the past two years at Leilehua Golf Course in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

"The key to winning is in a certain stretch of holes that are rather easy," said assistant coach John Knauer. "You got to make your money right there."

Knauer believes the Wildcats need to shoot between 8- and 10-under-par each day or between 24-30 total-under-par to win the tournament.

"If we do that and we don't win I won't be totally disappointed," Knauer said.

The 54-hole event takes place at the par-72 Leilehua Golf Course, a 6,916-yard layout with 18 holes being played today through Friday.

Starting will be sophomore Henry Liaw, senior Nathan Lashley, freshman Travis Esway, sophomore Nathan Tyler, sophomore Josh Esler and sophomore Mark Lamb playing as individuals.

Liaw hopes to help his team by matching last year's performance when he shot a 13-under 203 at the Burn's Intercollegiate to tie for third place.

The Wildcats are going to Hawaii ranked No. 19 in the most recent GCAA/Bridgestone Top-25 Coaches Poll.

They won the event last year by four strokes with a 31-under-par total of 833.

Arizona's experience hopes to be advantageous as everyone besides Esway participates in last year's event.

"It gives you confidence," Knauer said. "When they are faced with a difficult shot, they can recall good memories."

Knauer credits the Wildcats' previous wins with their ability to stay focused amidst the various distractions of the tropical paradise.

"We have fun, we go to the beach," Knauer said. "But this is not a tourist group, we're not going snorkeling and touring volcanoes."

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